With the holidays approaching, attention in many homes across the United States is turning to menu items that will be featured on dining room tables as families and friends prepare their gatherings. However, an increasing number of U.S. households are unable to afford the abundant food served in many homes during the upcoming festivities, and instead face hunger at the holidays.

Smithfield Foods wants to talk about rising hunger in the nation and invites the public to join in the conversation. The company is hosting a live Twitter event Friday, Dec. 16 at 1:00 EST to spread awareness of issues concerning hunger in America.

“As we are in the midst of the holiday season, we've been thinking about all we have to celebrate, and those who are less fortunate,” said Dennis Treacy, Smithfield executive vice president. “Hunger is a challenging issue, but we can make valuable progress through ongoing dialogue and collaboration.” Treacy and Kathleen Kirkham, Smithfield sustainability coordinator, will moderate the dialogue to bring awareness to issues concerning food insecurity.

To participate, follow @SmithfieldCSR on Twitter and tweet questions using #SFDHunger. The company encourages questions and personal stories in advance using the interactive Q&A function on the Smithfield web site found here. See how Smithfield is already involved in supporting food insecure families here.

According to a Reuters report, a survey of 29 U.S. cities shows hunger has risen in most of them in the last year. In addition, the U.S. Conference of Mayors reported this week that hunger is largely expected to increase in 2012.

With high unemployment, rapidly rising food prices and high housing costs requests for emergency food aid have increased in eighty-six percent of the survey cities over the last year, the mayors' group said. The number of homeless families was up an average of 16 percent.

Source: Smithfield Foods, Reuters