WASHINGTON, June 14, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Most hungry children in the U.S. suffer quietly, and are unnoticed until a teacher or a doctor recognizes their "failure to thrive." Hungry children are everywhere, in every single corner of America—including Weston, Mass. The first and most critical step to solving this problem is learning to see it. Area resident Phyll Ribakoff not only sees how hunger affects a growing population, she voluntarily works to eliminate it. Tonight, the registered dietitian and associate director of dietetic distance education for Sodexo will be recognized as a Hero of Everyday Life® at the 13th Annual Sodexo Foundation Dinner in Washington, D.C. As part of that recognition, Ribakoff will receive a $5,000 grant, presented in her name to the hunger-relief charity of her choice, Share Our Strength.
Phyll Ribakoff began actively volunteering for Share Our Strength's Cooking Matters in 2005. Since that time she has taught 17 six-part classes based on various Cooking Matters curricula. Each class series is led by a nutritionist or dietitian and chef providing nutrition education and hands-on cooking lessons. At the end of each class, participants leave with a supply of groceries including items used in the day's cooking demo.
Ribakoff's work is featured in several training videos used nationally to instruct other dietitians and chefs who volunteer for Cooking Matters. She has dedicated more than 200 hours to teaching over 150 families how to eat better for less by equipping them with a full complement of practical knowledge and skills.
"Phyll's dedication to fighting hunger in the community by sharing her expertise is more than commendable, it's a model for us all," said Robert A. Stern, Chair, Sodexo Foundation. "That one in five children can go to bed hungry or spend weekends unsure about the next meal is unthinkable to Phyll. It should be for all of us. We all have to roll up our sleeves and take hunger personally."
In addition to her work as a volunteer for Cooking Matters Ribakoff served on its advisory board, and next year will be inducted into the Share Our Strength Hall of Fame as the first registered dietitian to teach at least 15 series of classes. In her professional capacity, Ribakoff also coordinates a required STOP Hunger activity for her 40 Sodexo Dietetic Interns, engaging them to raise money, collect food and educate audiences about the issue of hunger.
Ribakoff explains, "I grew up in a home where volunteering and giving were expected and embraced. It is important for me also to instill in future registered dietitians that they have a professional responsibility to prevent hunger and food insecurity."
There are more than 16 million children living in homes in America where meals are uncertain. That's one in five American kids at risk of hunger every day. Tragically, while 22 million kids in the U.S. are eligible for free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program, only 3 million of them are aware of or have access to existing free meal programs during weekends and school breaks. The volunteer efforts by Heroes of Everyday Life, like Ribakoff, help to bridge that gap.
Sodexo Foundation recognizes Sodexo employees who invest their time, talent, and service spirit in helping those at-risk of hunger in the United States. Nominated by a colleague, friend or employer, selected Heroes are honored at the annual Sodexo Foundation Dinner and receive a $5,000 grant for their hunger-related charity of choice.
Phyll Dondis Ribakoff is one of five Heroes of Everyday Life recognized in 2012 by Sodexo Foundation. Others include: Lana M. Kruse of Lake St. Louis, Mo., Diana L. Messett of Mt. Airy, Md., Karen A. Peloquin of Douglas, Mass., and Cynthia L. Steele of Columbia, S.C.
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.