September 03, 2009 02:00 PM

For all its wealth and opportunity, even the United States is not immune to hunger. Approximately one in eight Americans go hungry each and every day — forced to skip meals for sometimes days on end — and contrary to popular thought, the problem is not limited to the inner city. Feeding America, an organization devoted to stamping out hunger, estimates that more than 42% of its clients reside in rural or suburban areas. What’s more, in 2006 4.2 million suburban households experienced food insecurity, while an additional 1.5 million were living in a state of very low food security. The bottom line? Your neighbors, your co-workers, your child’s classmates could be going hungry right now.

Matt Sayles/AP

David Arquette, dad to 5-year-old Coco Riley with wife Courteney Cox-Arquette, has heard these sobering statistics and was motivated to help as a result.

A volunteer with Feeding America, the 37-year-old actor has pitched in at Los Angeles-area foodbanks two times a week for the last year.

“It’s amazing when you see the people face-to-face,” he tells PEOPLE. “You see a kid in a stroller, and you give his family a bag of food, and the kid just reaches in and pulls out a piece of bread and just starts eating it. You can tell right away that this is a serious situation.”

For our smallest Americans, especially. With proper nutrition so vital to their growth and development, it is particularly distressing that Feeding America currently serves more than 9 million children, 2 million of which are under the age of five.

“The problem of childhood hunger is not simply a moral issue,” Feeding America notes. “Scientific evidence suggests that hungry children are less likely to become productive citizens. A child who is unequipped to learn because of hunger and poverty is more likely to be poor as an adult. As such, the existence of childhood hunger in the United States threatens future American prosperity.”

Click below to read about Hunger Action Month and David’s special delivery on day one of the Drive Out Hunger Tour.

September is Hunger Action Month, and to that end, Feeding America’s 205 food banks are urging communities to give up something small through the Give A Little, Feed A Lot campaign.

This week also marked the kickoff of the Drive Out Hunger Tour, a partnership between the Cheesecake Factory and Feeding America.

In 30 cities over the next 30 days, items will be collected for local food banks, with the restaurant chain passing out complimentary pieces of Stephanie’s Ultimate Red Velvet Cheesecake to the first 500 attendees who donate two cans of soup.

By the end of the month, Feeding America hopes to collect 100,000 cans!

Continuing his hands-on commitment to Feeding America, David made a beeline Tuesday to Courteney on the set Cougar Town. Handing out cheesecake to cast-members of the ABC show as well as cast-members of Scrubs, David said he was happy to help.

“It’s just nice to let people know that there is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about. There’s enough tragedy out there already. We should all be doing whatever we can.”

Courteney was clearly impressed by what she saw. “He’s been doing this for a year, but it’s one of those things where, when David decided to be a part of Feeding America, he went full force and it never waned,” she observes.

“He’ll do anything to get people to realize how important this cause is.”

To find out whether the Drive Out Hunger Tour will be visiting your area, click here. For more information on how you can contribute to Feeding America, click here.

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