Local volunteer organization expanding to schools, food banks throughout the county; recycling resources while feeding the hungry
GAITHERSBURG, Md., Feb. 28, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In less than a year, school kids in Montgomery County have collected and delivered a metric ton of food to more than 2,000 homeless people. At the same time, they've saved perfectly good food from filling the county trash.
This February, Food Recovery for the Hungry collected its 1,094th pound of food and delivered it to The Lord's Table, a Gaithersburg soup kitchen. It is the first such program allowed in a Maryland public school, beginning last March at Gaithersburg Middle School. And the program is about to expand from a handful of dedicated student volunteers into four more Montgomery County schools.
"So much food is wasted within school cafeterias—why not to prevent waste, help the homeless, and teach kids about helping their community all at once?" said Afarin Homer, executive director of the Youth Leadership Training Academy and the program's pioneer.
Volunteers collect whole foods like milk, chocolate milk, strawberry milk, juice, fresh fruit and canned fruit. The program addresses the increasing hunger crisis in Montgomery County. It aims to prevent food waste in schools by collecting and delivering unwanted food, otherwise discarded into trash cans and landfills, to local soup kitchens, shelters and food banks.
Participating inspires students become active citizens and advocate for positive change within their communities. Participants sign up in their school office and earn volunteer hours required for graduation.
Designing social responsible and community outreach programs for young adults is Homer's passion. The Maryland Department of Education awarded her the Sherry Unger Award in 2010 for another successful volunteer effort, the Ambassadors Program. Its middle-school participants have decorated, packed and delivered 2,000 snack bags to the Lord's Table since March 2008.
Homer, who receives no monetary compensation for her effort, hopes to see Food Recovery for the Hungry implemented in all county schools so that more food can find its way to needy local families. She plans to expand Food Recovery for the Hungry into four more local middle and high schools this fall.
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SOURCE Youth Leadership Training Academy