Where’s the next generation of hunger fighters going to come from?



High School Students in Las Vegas Fighting Hunger for Three Square Food Bank

By Ed Nicholson

Take a look around food banks, food pantries and hunger relief organizations, and you’ll see some phenomenal volunteers; engaged, dedicated, selfless, energetic, intelligent, passionate. 

Problem is, a whole lot of these volunteers are, shall we say, of "a certain age." (And I can use the categorization because I’m every bit of "a certain age" myself).  Not as many younger folks. 

So what’s going to happen when those in our generation retire from volunteering? 

For the past three years, at Tyson Foods, we’ve been piloting The Student Food Drive with selected Feeding America food banks across the country.  This effort engages high school students in raising funds and food for their local food bank. It requires a coordinated effort among schools, food banks, and local sponsors, but done right, the results are phenomenal:  Students become aware of hunger in their own community, while developing leadership skills.  If the food bank makes the effective connections, they have stakeholders for life. 

In 2009, these food banks/ communities are joining others who have come on board to do Student Food Drives in the past three years:

Southeast Missouri Food Bank   Cape Girardeau, Missouri
Lowcountry Food Bank     Charleston, South Carolina
Mountaineer Food Bank    Gassaway, West Virginia
Channel One Food Bank    Rochester, Minnesota
Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central Indiana     Muncie, Indiana
Three Square Food Bank       Las Vegas, Nevada

So what are you doing in your community to "rejuvenate" the pool of enaged hunger fighters?


4 Replies to “Where’s the next generation of hunger fighters going to come from?”

  1. Scott Kinney

    Ed, where are our next generation of volunteers is a great question. With what Tyson has committed to for the past three years in the Student Food Drive is in my oppinion the answer. Having high school students running the mini business of a six week food drive is phenomenal to be a part of. Students plan events, create themes, work stores and schools, envolve feeder schools, raise and spend funds and then get the food to the food abnk. All this for the cause of feeding hunger. The amazing part is what we’ve heard they get out of it. "It’s been rewarding to help feed other children in our community". "Given a greater appreciation for helping others". "Made me more responsible and aware of the good it does". "It unified the school". We just kicked off our second year of the drive. Seeing some of last years participating students was a blast. To us it meant they understood  what community service is about. It also shows their commitment to feed the hungry and promote volunteerism. As a small side note the drive is our largest food raiser of the year.

  2. Betsy Reithemeyer

    It continues to amaze me how the young people of our country can be so compassionate while those older pass those in need by.  May be because the students see their fellow classmates more like themselves rather than in the stilted world of business that we find ourselves in after school.  It is then that we can more easily choose with whom we associate and converse.  Thank you to Ed and his team for the time and effort it takes to challenge these young people, give them direction and an opportunity to make a difference.

  3. Rachel Osborn

    The Teen Action and Support Center (TASC) is a non-profit in Rogers, Arkansas offering free programs for teens and their families in Northwest Arkansas.  Through our program In Service, teens serve numerous hours in the community doing service projects.  This year we have helped with a snack pack program for local students in need, and will also be helping with other food drives.

    Mary’s Closet is another program we offer that helps students who are in need of physical resources such as food and clothing.  It is so exciting how our students are committing themselves through volunteerism to give back to the community and to their peers!  We are excited to be part of a community who is giving back!

  4. Gina Goff

    Ed,  Great blog and great piece.  Our company too has recognized that leaders in the effort to eliminate hunger are (as you graciously phrased it) "of a certain age."   To address that we invest in the Congressional Hunger Center’s Emerson Hunger Fellows program…a competitive and comprehensive program.  Also, this year we’re sponsoring the Conference of Leaders that our friends at Share Our Strength are organizing.  So much to do…and so many people with fresh new ideas to engage!

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