Having worked for Sodexo for over 25 years, I see a lot of food on a daily basis. Seeing so much food so often, I sometimes take for granted that I am blessed with the means to provide nutritious food for me and my family. But there are millions of Americans who are not as fortunate and it is through no fault of their own. Especially in today’s economy when so many are losing jobs on a daily basis. You just never know when something could happen in your life that could lead to the inability to provide for your family. Can you imagine not being able to feed your kids? How would you cope?
Childhood hunger affects every community. Seventeen million children in America are at-risk of hunger, leading to a domino affect in their lives – from failing grades to poor health, there are no positives. As a brand manager for Jazzman’s Café & Bakery, which has over 200 locations, I realized I had an opportunity to make a significant impact in someone’s life by simply asking for support from our guests.
After speaking with my colleague, Bill Kehler, who runs our Pandini’s restaurant in Germantown, Maryland, I learned about the Backpack Food Program. This program sends at-risk kids home with nutritious, easy to prepare meals on weekends and holidays. It lifts some of the burden from parents and caregivers to ensure nutritious meals are available when kids are not in school. Since 2009, Pandini’s has been packing backpacks every Thursday and delivering them to the Water’s Landing Elementary School in Germantown. They have provided over 3,000 meals to at-risk children. This inspired me to pitch in!
Our local Jazzman’s teams have been making tremendous strides to help their communities, from collecting monetary donations and canned goods to donating excess food to their local food banks. Now, we are reaching out to our guests. It is so easy to help! Donate your time at your local soup kitchen, school or summer camp. Make a financial contribution to your local food bank. Or, stop at Jazzman’s for a cup of our latest Noteworthy Coffee, Sumatra Arinagata, or purchase a STOP Hunger logoed tumbler. A portion of the proceeds from both will go directly towards meals for children. In addition, The Sodexo Foundation is offering $5,000 scholarships to students in kindergarten through graduate school who are driving awareness and mobilizing to support hunger initiatives. Selected students also receive a $5,000 grant for the hunger-related charity of their choice!
If there is one thing I have learned from this experience is that we can all make a difference. We just need to use our resources, be creative and work together.
Scott Barrineau is a senior brand manager for Sodexo’s Retail Brand Group.
Tags: child hunger, corporate social responsibility, growth, jazzmans cafe, opportunity, scholarships, sodexo, sodexo community, sodexo foundation, sodexo foundation stop hunger scholarships, STOP Hunger