WASHINGTON - Last march, actor Jeff Bridges won an Oscar for his role as a down-and-out country music singer in "Crazy Heart."
But his new leading role as the national spokesperson for the childhood anti-hunger campaign No Kids Hungry is the one he calls the most important, one in which all Americans can get involved.
"We've got a lot of issues going on with people and there's a lot of disagreement about it. But ending childhood hunger, everybody can agree that our kids should have a healthy start in life," Bridges said.
The numbers are stark and made all the more painful as the sluggish economy slowly builds from the worst recession in decades.
"Just in the last two years the number of Americans on food stamps has increased from 34 million to 42 million. So eight million Americans added to the food stamp rolls in two years," said Bill Shore, with Share Our Strength, the organization leading the campaign.
Shore said half of those on food stamps are children. He's teamed up with the Hollywood legend to promote awareness and recruit ordinary Americans to help them achieve their goal of ending childhood hunger by 2015.
Helping hungry children is a cause Bridges has been working on for more than 20 years and one that's close to his heart. During the launch of the campaign, the actor got emotional when asked what's the greatest challenge he's faced.
"I'm trying not to break down because it's right here," he said. "Ending childhood hunger in our country. This is the most significant thing that I have ever done."
The No Kid Hungry campaign is working with government, schools, and other volunteers to shrink the gap between kids who are eligible for reduced school meal programs and those who are actually enrolled.
"When we make sure that all 19 million - 100 percent of them - are getting all those meals and food stamps then we'll know we've solved the issue of child hunger," Shore said.
For Bridges, it's about creating the will toward a common goal.
"It's so important because we're talking about creating the kind of world you want to live in and you want your kids and your kids kids to live in," Bridges said. "Far more important than making a film telling some other kind of story. This is real."