For the second year, Brae’s Brown Bags was able to work with the Food Bank of Delaware to co-host a hunger conference that included youth participants. Words really cannot begin to describe how impactful the event is for Braeden and myself. While planning the event takes a lot of time for us, since I work full-time at UD and Brae is a full-time 7th grade student, haha, all of the time and energy and creativity that is poured into this conference is completely worth it! This year we had so many amazing volunteers helping us and I have to say I am humbled that they generously donated a full day to assisting us with the conference, I hope they also found it impactful.
I would like to thank my parents and my in-laws for their help with the conference. Our friend Michele Fidance and Mallory Stratton from the Jefferson Awards Foundation helped out at the legislative letter writing table. My friends Laura Nash and Katie Moore-Hughes for manning the money pit, which is an activity designed by Brae and myself to help teach students about nutrition facts, food access and food affordability. The money pit is one of the activities the students said they enjoyed the most. It requires a team effort, students seek through “food cards” hand made by Brae and myself, they then have to go up to board and see if the foods the picked are nutritious per MyPlate standards and then also see what their cost is per serving. The task is to figure out if a healthy meal can be made for $1.25 since one and a half billion people live on less than $1.25 per day across the world.
Every student had an opportunity to write a letter to a Delaware legislator including our state senators, Senator Carper and Senator Coons, our state house representative, Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester and Governor Carney. We will be sorting and mailing these letters on the students behalf. We asked the students to provide a return address if they were able. The ages and backgrounds of those who attended were very diverse, we had students in elementary, middle and high school from public, charter and private schools attend from across the state of Delaware.
The University of Delaware’s Cooperative Extension program provided three of our activity sessions including a healthy food demo, a sustainable gardening demo and a food waste activity named “Food Waste Warriors.” Their assistance with this conference and the energy they put into each session was absolutely remarkable. So many students were surprised to learn that some vegetable regenerate, so you don’t need to throw away those carrot stems.
There were students shocked to learn about the 40% of food wasted in the United States on a regular basis. And I know every student and chaperone who tasted one of the fruit smoothies wanted to get their hands on those recipes, which they were given to take home. Every student who attended left having learned something new and I hope they went home and told their parents all about their day.
The Bear-Glasgow YMCA fitness routine, “Born to Move Youth Fitness Program,” was a smashing success as well. They had kids doing yoga and dancing all in span of 10 minutes. I don’t know how they had the energy to rotate through seven groups of students and get them all pumped up each time, but they did! Their music kept all of us energized and they were very generous to help us pull of a very large mannequin challenge when the adults from the Food Bank’s portion of the event ventured over to take a sneak peek at the “kid track” of the conference.
A man I admire very much, Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture with the United States Department of Agriculture, attended and took the time to talk with all of the students, chaperones and volunteers during their lunch break. He spoke about the movie Interstellar. In that movie, Matthew McConaughey’s character Cooper says, “We used to look up at the sky and wonder at our place in the stars. Now we just look down, and worry about our place in the dirt.” Dr. Ramaswamy explained that this is happening and that we need to really pay attention to our resources and how we take care of them so we can feed a growing population. He spoke about the need for young minds and innovation, for astronaut farmers 🙂
Of course we also made time to pack 200 brown bags of healthy food for our guests to take home with them so if they see someone in need they have something to give. Or, if they are living in a food insecure household they will have something extra to snack on when they get home.
Last but not least I would be remiss to not thank Juan Castellanos, my dear friend and colleague who took photos throughout the event. His photos are wonderful and I’m thrilled to be able to share them with all of you through our Flickr album. The photos included in this post are all taken by Juan.