More than 5,000 people attended an all-star Christian festival Saturday in Dallas that focused on combating summer hunger.
Grammy award-winning music artists TobyMac and Casting Crowns led the worship at the "End Summer Hunger" concert and family festival. Three-time Super Bowl winner Chad Henning, who formerly played for the Dallas Cowboys, delivered the keynote address. And Texas Rangers baseball star Josh Hamilton appeared to the crowd via a special video.
The one day festival sought to raise awareness about summer hunger – a phenomenon that affects millions of school children each summer when school lets out – and to challenge attendees to work together to tackle social problems.
"This effort challenged people to live a life of worship and disadvantage themselves to do justice right where they are," said Denny Nooner, founder of Twenty Ten Mission, which sponsored the "End Summer Hunger" event. "We hope this is one domino that has fallen that will project and cause other good things to happen. When the church changes its mindset from individualism to collaboration, we really can change the world."
More than a dozen local and international organizations – including Twenty Ten Mission, Dallas Justice Revival, Gospel for Asia, and Revive Africa – came together for the event. K.P. Yohannan, president of Gospel for Asia, challenged the audience to make decisions considering eternal life.
According to organizers, tons of non-perishable food items were collected. Each attendee was asked to contribute two non-perishable food items in addition to the $20 admission fee.
Additionally, 2,000 empty backpacks were distributed to attendees to fill with food and then drop off at designated locations to help fight summer hunger.
Summer hunger, though not widely discussed, affects children nationwide every year. Children who receive free or low-cost breakfasts and lunches during the school year often go without food during the summer when classes are out.
In the Dallas-Fort Worth area – home to the third wealthiest group of zip codes in Texas – there are at least 300,000 school children who will go hungry in nearby communities such as East Dallas.
Net proceeds from the weekend event are being directed to local non-profits and ministry groups that help the poor and hungry in the Dallas area.