Left to right, Josette Sheeran, Drew Barrymore and Arianna Huffington.
LOS ANGELES -- The awareness-raising event, A Conversation About World Hunger and the Economic Downturn, drew almost 200 film and television executives to the headquarters of Creative Artists Agency, one of Hollywood's leading talent agencies, which hosted the evening free of charge.
View from the blogs
"I wasn't prepared to be inspired."
Patricia Fitzgerald in her Huffington Post blog. Read post
"(It) was enough to get me to quit my belly-achin'."
Paul Serchia, a man who lives with AIDS and cancer, on his Think Positive blog. Read post
The evening's highlight was a discussion featuring WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran, Drew Barrymore (a WFP Ambassador Against Hunger) and political commentator Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post.
Barrymore explained how she had been inspired to get involved with WFP after reading about its school feeding programmes in the New York Times. She also described her trips to Kenya to see the programmes first hand and talked about how she now uses her celebrity status to help spread the word.
"Reaching out to people"
"None of it is sensationalistic. It's all about reaching out to people who can make a difference," she said, recalling that during the high food price crisis she went with Josette Sheeran to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange to ask traders what they could do to lower grain prices. Read Drew's account of the Los Angeles event
"What we're trying to do is to see how many people in this room can get involved," said Arianna Huffington. "And we have a moment here because of the economic crisis. Because people are suffering themselves, there's more sympathy for the struggle of others."
Josette Sheeran emphasised America's long tradition of helping the rest of the world through food aid, noting that half of the people who receive food aid today get it from the United States. "Never forget the power of this country to do good," she said. "Many of you can make a huge difference also".
Vehicle to build support
In a bid to tap into Hollywood's huge influence on pop culture, trends and philanthropic thinking, WFP brought together almost 200 people from across the entertainment community -- producers, directors, actors, television programmers, studio executives and others. The April 27 event proved to be an excellent vehicle for building broad support for WFP's work.
"I was ready to kick in a few bucks so I would feel like I was doing something. I wasn't prepared to actually be inspired," said one Huffington Post blog writer who attended. "What I learned that evening is that the issue of world hunger is solvable, and WFP is hot on the trail."
The evening was co-hosted by Dan Glickman, chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America and vice chair of WFP's US fundraising arm, Friends of the World Food Program.
Actors, actresses, sports stars and musicians
WFP has a long list of celebrity partners. These high-profile supporters are committed to using their visibility to put the spotlight on the plight of hunger and what WFP is doing to alleviate it.