Some would say that working so closely to an issue like childhood hunger can wear on the soul after a while – slowly eating away at the heart with overwhelming images of enduring need. That’s not my view. I see myself as lucky…. lucky to make the acquaintance of so many individuals and businesses that choose to be a part of the solution.
Take for example the 21 million children who returned to school this fall and are receiving free and reduced-price meals — regular, nutritious meals that they can depend on without fail during school days.
Were it not for the dedication of countless individuals, when schools close for holidays, weekends or summer breaks, many of these kids find themselves at risk of hunger.
I’m fortunate enough to work with so many of these dedicated individuals every day in the course of my work with Sodexo Foundation.
They are the driving force behind successful programs like Feeding Our Future®, which helps children get the nutritious meals they need during the summer months so they’re ready to learn when they return to school.
Feeding Our Future® entered its 16th year this summer, with a presence in 24 U.S. cities, providing 400,000 nutritious meals. Since its inception, the program has provided nearly 3.4 million meals to children nationwide.
Feeding Our Future is impactful due to the many volunteers who donate time and resources. They are community leaders, Sodexo employees, clients and customers and 26 vendor partners, including key donors like The Coca-Cola Company, Unilever, Sysco and The Schwan Food Company, who along with Sodexo Foundation implement the program across the country.
I know I’m not alone in balancing the severity of the need and gratitude for those willing to fill it. The following note was shared with me by a Feeding Our Future volunteer about an experience in Indianapolis:
Sodexo’s Feeding Our Future program was a blessing to Indianapolis children every day during the summer. A team of volunteers separated and bagged the lunches to give out. Upon our arrival, children were standing outside waiting for the lunches. We gave out 100 lunches in the first 15 minutes. And, all the lunches were gone after 25 minutes. The heartbreak was every day like clockwork – children would come up and say, “Are all the meals gone already?” This would bring tears to my eyes. However, we are so grateful to Sodexo for the many children that did receive meals each day. — Toni Bunch, Precious Gifts Visionaries Childcare, Indiana
As a direct result of Feeding Our Future, Sodexo was honored with the Children Are Reason for Excellence service award this September by the Boys and Girls Clubs Tennessee Area Council for the contributions it makes to improve the quality of life for at-risk youth in Tennessee.
Recognition like that comes from the work of a lot of caring people. I’m so lucky to know them.