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Drive to End Hunger a Winner for Food Banks

Four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Jeff Gordon may not have finished first in the Daytona 500 Feb. 20, but his Drive to End Hunger car was still a winner for Central Florida food banks and for people who are struggling to keep food on their tables.

The Daytona 500 represented the latest turn in Florida’s Drive to End Hunger initiative for 2011. The initiative kicked off Feb. 17 with a collaboration between the AARP Foundation, AARP Florida, Winn-Dixie Stores, and Hendrick Motorsports.

AARP through Drive to End Hunger is the primary sponsor for Gordon's No. 24 Chevrolet in 22 NASCAR races in 2011, and will end the year at the Homestead/Miami Speedway in South Florida in November with the last Sprint Cup series race for the year. Gordon will continue to be sponsored by AARP through the 2013 NASCAR season.

Earlier in the week, AARP Foundation President Jo Ann Jenkins presented a $10,000 check to Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, which is able to provide $9 in groceries to the hungry for every dollar it brings in. The donation capped a two-week food drive with Winn-Dixie stores, which was coordinated by AARP Florida's state office and Second Harvest.

In addition to the donation, volunteers loaded more than seven tons of unserved food from Daytona International Speedway following the race and delivered the food items to the food bank. The donation included breads, produce and other food items that will help feed thousands of Floridians.

“I am proud to report that, through our food drive at area Winn-Dixie stores as well as a generous donation from the Speedway itself, more than 10,000 pounds of food were donated directly to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida," said Jenkins. "Additionally, more than $12,000 was donated to national and local efforts to end hunger. Together, these efforts will provide more than 77,000 meals to Floridians who are struggling with hunger."

Similar events will be scheduled at each of the 21 remaining races for which AARP is the primary sponsor of Gordon's No. 24 Chevrolet.

With 6 million Americans – more than 11 percent of all older Americans – suffering from some form of food insecurity , AARP is taking an active role in finding ways to solve the problem. Find more information about solutions and ways to get help.

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