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First Person: ‘NCIS: Los Angeles’ Star Chris O’Donnell Fights Child Hunger

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Chris O'Donnell (Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)

When handsome, blue-eyed actor Chris O'Donnell isn't working on his show "NCIS: LA," he's spending time with his sweet family, which includes his wife of 18 years, Caroline, and their five kids, who are the between the ages of 5 and 14. Whew! Still, the 43-year-old devoted dad recently explained to omg! that he makes sure to carve out time for a cause that's very close to his heart — and why you should, too.

Many people don't think of child hunger in America … they think of late night commercials about starving kids in far away countries. But hunger is a lot closer than you think. More than one in five children in the U.S. does not have consistent access to the food they need for an active, healthful life. That's nearly 16 million kids — enough children to fill 31 NFL stadiums seven times!

While ending child hunger in the U.S. might seem like a daunting task, there are simple ways that all of us can help. I am working with ConAgra Foods to help raise awareness for this issue and to help them spread the word about how to get involved. I have five children of my own so this issue hits close to home. Growing up I didn't have to worry about where my next meal came from and today, my children don't worry about these things either. But as a father, I know that kids simply can't be kids if they're hungry.

I felt compelled to get involved, so when I was approached by ConAgra Foods to help fight child hunger in America, I wanted to know more. As I dug deeper, I learned not only about the staggering statistics of child hunger, but also that ConAgra Foods and the ConAgra Foods Foundation have been committed to finding solutions for 20 years. It was incredibly important to me to align with a partner that was making a real impact. As I learned that since 1993, they have donated food to Feeding America (315 million pounds!) and have invested $60 million dollars through the ConAgra Foods Foundation — money that goes to non-profits working on the front lines — I knew it was a good fit.

[Related: 'NCIS: Los Angeles Cast' Reveals Secrets to Reaching 100]

One of their key time periods is summer, when kids should be excited about vacations and a break from school. But what do many low-income kids do during school breaks and on weekends without the help of the free or reduced-price meals they receive when school is in session? They're at a greater risk of hunger during those times, and without consistent access to food, kids may not know if, when, or where they'll get their next meal. To make sure people are aware of this, I created a video for the ConAgra Foods Foundation's Hunger-Free Summer program. Thanks to all of your views and shares of that video, the ConAgra Foods Foundation was able to contribute the equivalent of a half million meals to Feeding America — in addition to over 2.5 million summer meals served since the Hunger-Free Summer program started in 2010.

I also worked with ConAgra Foods to help raise awareness last month during Feeding America's Hunger Action Month. Orange is the color of hunger and throughout September, I encouraged everyone to join me and ConAgra Foods in raising awareness for the issue of child hunger by capturing and sharing orange moments on social channels with the hashtag #Orange4Hunger. The website www.childhungerendshere.com continues to feature all content tagged with #Orange4Hunger on its homepage real-time flip board. It was inspiring to see all those who captured an orange moment — from a pumpkin to an orange traffic cone — and got involved in the fight against child hunger.

Regardless of the season or month, you can always find a way to get involved. Visit the "Taking Action" page of www.childhungerendshere.com for simple ways to join the fight. No child should have to worry about where the next meal is coming from. Together, we can make a difference.

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