WASHINGTON, June 14, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- While hunger continues to affect a growing population in communities across America, a mobilized youth culture may well be the key to the solution. Students from kindergarten to graduate school are actively engaged in service-oriented volunteer work, many of them focused on eliminating hunger. Ruthi Solari, a student at Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center in Solana Beach, Calif., is a perfect example. Tonight she will be recognized at the 13th Annual Sodexo Foundation Dinner in Washington, D.C. as a national 2012 Stephen J. Brady STOP Hunger Scholarship recipient for advocating food drives that focus on collecting and donating nutrient-rich food items. As part of that recognition, Solari will receive a $5,000 scholarship and a $5,000 matching grant presented in her name to the hunger-related charity of her choice, SuperFood Drive.
As a nutritionist and student, Ruthi quickly understood that food banks struggle just to "fill stomachs" as she was told – often with no focus on nutrition. With that understanding a cause was born. SuperFood Drive began as a project within the United Nations San Diego Chapter where Ruthi was a board member, but she eventually saw the benefit of making it a stand-alone entity. She took it upon herself to create a 501(c)(3) non-profit, pulled together a team of volunteers, established a Board of Directors, and launched partnerships with organizations like Feeding America San Diego and San Diego Food Bank.
"Most people don't even realize the extent of childhood hunger in our country, or that 'food insecure' families may be living right next door," said Robert A. Stern, Chair, Sodexo Foundation. "Only by driving awareness at the local and national levels can we even get to the point of implementing change, and that's exactly what students like Ruthi are doing."
Within the first two years SuperFood Drive helped collect over 30,000 pounds of healthy, nutritious non-perishables. The launch last year of a related venture, SuperKids for SuperFoods, added a youth engagement element that raises nutrition awareness and calls on youth to host their own SuperFood Drive to collect healthy food for the local community. Solari has given more than 6,000 hours of personal volunteer time to her cause and raised $35,000 for her organization.
"I would encourage young people to 'Be the change you wish to see in the world,'" says Solari. "I have been inspired by Gandhi's quote since I was very young and my experience with SuperFood Drive is a living example of how we really can make a difference."
Also named as national Stephen J. Brady STOP Hunger Scholarship recipients for 2012 are: Peyton Medick of Weston, Wis. (8th Grader), Alexander Epstein of New York, N.Y. (College Junior), Rebecca Fawns of Corvallis, Mont. (High School Senior) and Camille Posard of Encinitas, Calif. (High School Senior).
In addition to the national scholarship recipients, 20 Stephen J. Brady STOP Hunger Regional Honorees will each receive a $1,000 grant in their name to support the hunger-related charity of their choice. The 2012 regional honorees are:
Essence M. Agee, Gautier, Miss.
Senior at Gautier High School
Amber Banks, Seattle, Wash.
Graduate Student at University of Washington-Seattle Campus
Sibo Cai, San Diego, Calif.
Senior at La Jolla Country Day School
Nicholas Cobb, Allen, Texas
Sophomore at Allen High School
Zach Harmon, New Berlin, Wis.
Seventh Grader at New Berlin West Middle School
Olivia Hodge, Blacksburg, Va.
Eighth Grader at Blacksburg Middle School
Hajja Kamara, Tampa, Fla.
Junior at University of South Florida
Chad Kamen, Prospect, Ky.
Eighth Grader at Kentucky Country Day
Will Lourcey, Fort Worth, Texas
Third Grader at Tanglewood Elementary School
Kathryn Marsh-Soloway, Woodbridge, Conn.
Junior at Washington and Lee University
Ravi Patel, Nashville, Tenn.
Graduate Student at Vanderbilt University
Gloria Patterson, Saint Ann, Mo.
Junior at Kaplan University
Jeffrey C. Peterson, Minooka, Ill.
Graduate Student at Olivet Nazarene University
Jackie Price, Derwood, Md.
Senior at Colonel Zadok Magruder High School
Andrew Reuss, Madison, Ind.
Freshman at Hillsdale College
Roseana Rodriguez, Hialeah, Fla.
Senior at Westland Hialeah Senior High School
Ben Simon, Takoma Park, Md.
Senior at University of Maryland-College Park
Jacklyn Marie Sullivan, Wantagh, N.Y.
Senior at General Douglas MacArthur High School
Brian M. Wong, Alameda, Calif.
Senior at Alameda High School
Michael Zimmerman, New York, N.Y.
Graduate Student at Fordham University
The Stephen J. Brady STOP Hunger Scholarship is named for Sodexo Foundation's founder and former president, who was an unstoppable champion in the fight to end hunger. Thanks to Steve's efforts, which made these scholarships possible, an emerging generation of leaders now joins the fight against hunger. To date, Sodexo Foundation has recognized 90 STOP Hunger Regional Honorees with grants totaling $90,000 for their hunger-relief charities. In addition, it has awarded 30 students with $260,000 in scholarships and matching grants for the hunger-relief charities of their choice.
ABOUT SODEXO'S FIGHT AGAINST HUNGER
Sodexo Inc. and Sodexo Foundation work to help end hunger in the United States. Sodexo Foundation is an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit with the mission to end childhood hunger. The foundation works to ensure that every child in the United States, especially those most at-risk, grows up with dependable access to enough nutritious food to enable them to lead a healthy, productive life. Sodexo Foundation cultivates and maintains strategic partnerships with regional and national hunger relief entities and youth mobilization organizations—all part of Sodexo's STOP Hunger Initiative, its global program to end hunger and malnutrition in the communities where it operates. Sodexo is headquartered in Gaithersburg, Md. and funds all administrative costs for Sodexo Foundation, which since 1999 has made more than $17 million in grants to end childhood hunger. Visit www.SodexoFoundation.org for more information.
Sodexo's STOP Hunger Programs
Impact to Date (as of June 2012)
Stephen J. Brady STOP Hunger Scholarship
Heroes of Everyday Life®
Feeding Our Future®
Backpack Food Program
Distributed more than $17 million in grants
Gave $353,000 in scholarships & matching grants
Awarded $478,000 to employees' hunger charities
Funded more than 2.9 million summer meals
Mobilized 125,000 employees to fight hunger
Funded 70 programs; providing 2 million meals
SOURCE Sodexo, Inc.