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Hunger campaign uses facebook votes to choose grant winners
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Local communities are in the running to get a part of $2 million in funding to fight domestic hunger.

As part of the Walmart Foundation’s Fighting Hunger Together campaign, 200 metropolitan statistical areas with the highest unemployment rates as defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the U.S. Department of Labor are in competition to win money for local food banks and hunger programs. Both Merced and Modesto are in the competition.

The winners are being chosen by a voting campaign through facebook. The contest, which started April 8 and ends Monday, encourages people to vote for the communities they want to support at

The community with the most “votes” will receive $1,000,000 from Walmart. Additionally, the next 20 communities who are runners up will each receive $50,000.

Once the winning community and the 20 runner-up communities have been selected, the Walmart Foundation will determine, based on its funding criteria, which hunger-fighting organizations in those communities will receive grants and the grant amount.

Mike Mallory of Second Harvest Food Bank of San Joaquin and Stanislaus Counties said the Valley — and Turlock in particular — is in need of all the food outreach funding possible.

“Right now, during these tough economic times, the face of hunger really has changed,” Mallory said. “Everybody thinks of the homeless, now it’s your next door neighbor … it could be your coworker. (Hunger) is out there. Everyone thinks about it at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but hunger is out there 365 days a year.”

Mallory lauded the Walmart Foundation for its support of community hunger programs. He said collaboration with businesses and other community organizations is important in the fight to end hunger. Locally, Foster Farms partners with Second Harvest to fund the Food 4 Thought program that gives elementary students 15 to 18 pounds of groceries twice a week for participating in after-school programs.

Second Harvest also provides food for eight Turlock churches and organizations that run outreach programs, said Mallory.