The singer puts on a show to feed hungry families

Credit: Jason Merritt/Getty

Growing up on a working cattle ranch in Oklahoma, Reba McEntire knew plenty of tough times, but one thing she never knew was hunger.

“We had cattle, we had some hogs. We didn’t have a garden, but Aunt Jenny did,” she says. “We always had food. I just can’t fathom going hungry.”

So when the singer was invited to be this year’s spokesperson for Outnumber Hunger, she signed on right away. “I was shocked when they told me one out of six people are hungry in this nation, the land of the plenty!” she says. “It doesn’t matter where you live, in the city or the country, if you cannot get access to food, you and your family will be hungry, and that is so sad. Children can’t learn and parents can’t work when they’re hungry.”

Now in its fourth year, the Outnumber Hunger campaign is a partnership between General Mills, Feeding America and Big Machine Label Group. Starting next month, McEntire’s face will be on every box of Cheerios and specially marked packages of General Mills products will feature an Outnumber Hunger code. For every code entered via the website, General Mills will donate 50 cents to Feeding America, enough to provide five meals on behalf of local food banks. Since the program started, more 35 million meals have been secured to help the 49 million Americans who struggle with hunger.

“This is so simple,” says McEntire. “Every kid sits at the breakfast table in the mornings and reads the back of cereal boxes. Get them to enter the code and they can see how many they can enter for the whole family. Make it a contest, make it fun, and make a difference in people’s lives. I love being part of this big team.”

She’ll also be leading the team in song, headlining a concert featuring performances from labelmates Tim McGraw, Rascal Flatts, Florida Georgia Line, Eli Young Band, Maddie & Tae and more that will air April 17 on Gannett and CMT and be streamed on iHeartRadio stations.

“I’ve been around Rascal Flatts and Tim McGraw forever so doing this with them makes it even more fun,” says McEntire. “I’ve only met Maddie & Tae one time, at an awards show. They are cute as a button, their songs are great and they’re having huge success. I’m really happy and proud for them.”

It’s looking like a busy year for the singer: Three days prior to the concert, on April 14, she’ll release her first new album in more than five years; on April 19, she’ll perform on the 50th Anniversary ACM Awards from Dallas; and on June 17, she begins a residency at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas with former touring partners Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn.

Check out McEntire’s labelmate and fellow Outnumber Hunger concert performer McGraw explaining the secret to living with four women: