Seven year old Lomari of Hampstead, North Carolina likes people and he likes food. It is simply unimaginable to him that the two should be separated – that there could be kids who go without regular meals in his community. Sixteen year old Shana of Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan sees the same situation at Malcolm High School, where the majority of students receive free or reduced-price meals. Lomari and Shana stand out in that they choose “initiative” over “indifference” and are actively engaged in youth-led projects to fight childhood hunger.
Sodexo Foundation and YSA (Youth Service America) have awarded 77 Sodexo Foundation Youth Grants to young people nationwide, including Lomari and Shana, to support youth-led service projects designed to reduce childhood hunger in America. Projects will take place as part of Global Youth Service Day, April 20-22, 2012, an international service event celebrating the contributions of children and youth.
“There is a lot to be said for the often referenced proverb ‘it takes a village to raise a child,'” said Robert A. Stern, president, Sodexo Foundation. “But, sometimes it takes a child to raise awareness; awareness about the challenges of its own generation. That is exactly what these inspiring youth leaders are doing in the fight against childhood hunger during Global Youth Service Day.”
As part of each project, grantees educate and mobilize their peers around the issue of childhood hunger, expanding the pool of people actively searching for solutions to the problem. Sodexo Foundation Youth Grants position young people directly as problem-solvers in this crisis that affects their generation.
Lomari’s project, Bag it! was inspired after asking his mother how he could help. His project fills book bags with food for kids to take home during the weekends. Shana’s innovative effort, Malcolm Greenhouse Project, mobilizes students in growing fresh vegetables that are used for school lunches and donated to the local food pantry.
Teens of Washington D.C.’s Brainfood are partnering with Homeless Children’s Playtime Project to create Chef’s Playtime, which provides a demo on how homeless kids can make healthy food choices.
“We owe it to our kids, to ourselves and to our future to invest in a culture where kids are expected to be a part of solving their community’s toughest problems,” stated Steven A. Culbertson, YSA president and CEO. “Through Sodexo Foundation Youth Grants, Sodexo Foundation and YSA are activating the immense creativity, drive and commitment of young people who are working to address the childhood hunger crisis in America.”
The competitive grants were open to young people in the United States who proposed projects that directly and measurably address the issue of childhood hunger in local communities. In addition to funding, grantees receive project support, toolkits and planning resources from YSA to ensure the success of projects.
Sodexo Foundation increased the number of Youth Grants awarded this year by 55%, funding a total of 127 Sodexo Foundation Youth Grants since the inception of the partnership.
ABOUT YSA (Youth Service America)
Celebrating 25 years of youth changing the world, YSA (Youth Service America) improves communities by increasing the number and the diversity of young people, ages 5 to 25, serving in substantive roles. Through campaigns, grant programs, resource development and training opportunities, YSA promotes a global culture of engaged youth committed to a lifetime of service, learning, leadership and achievement. Sponsored by YSA, Global Youth Service Day (GYSD) is a campaign that celebrates and mobilizes the millions of children and youth who improve their communities each day of the year through service and service-learning. GYSD 2012 will be held on April 20-22 in more than 100 countries on six continents. For more information, visit www.GYSD.org and www.YSA.org.
Sodexo in North America Sodexo, Inc. (www.sodexoUSA.com), leading Quality of Daily Life Solutions company in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, delivers On-site Service Solutions in Corporate, Education, Health Care, Government, Remote Site segments and Motivation Solutions such as Esteem Pass. Sodexo, Inc., headquartered in Gaithersburg, Md., funds all administrative costs for Sodexo Foundation (www.SodexoFoundation.org), an independent charitable organization that, since its founding in 1999, has made more than $17 million in grants to end childhood hunger in America. Visit the corporate blog at www.sodexoUSA.com/blog.