IN TIMES OF CRISIS, THE WAY TO HELP IS TO DO WHAT YOU DO BEST
For my organization, that means (1) empowering youth in every way possible, and (2) raising funds to support youth and those who serve them in the school building. What about you?
By Alexis Glick
One of the silver linings in times of crisis is they give individuals and organizations a chance to focus on their core missions. To dig deep, and ask themselves, “How best can we help?”
For me personally this time has led to sleepless nights asking myself, “How I can do more?” And for my team, it has led to countless hours asking school nutritional professionals and superintendents, “What is it that you need most urgently?”
The organization I lead, GENYOUth, is a national youth-wellness nonprofit in support of healthier school communities. Our true north, the school building, is also ground zero for school meals. As our Board Member Emeritus and 44th U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher has said to me, “Alexis, public schools have always been the great equalizer.”
Well, they’re even more so now. Let me explain.
The other day somebody asked me, “Schools are closed — but how come I keep seeing school buses at the bus stops?” Well, what those school buses are doing is dropping off school meals to kids in need.
Schools right now are working creatively to provide school meals and essential nutrition to students during school closures. Approximately 124,000 K-12 public schools, impacting 55 million kids nationwide, are closed, and likely for the remainder of the school year.
But even when closed, those schools remain a vital source of nutrition for the 30 million students who depend on school meals for a substantial portion of their daily nutrition.
The U.S.D.A., always responsible for school meals, continues to support school feeding programs — but during school closures, if the kids can’t get to the food, the food has to get to the kids. So for schools now, this crisis isn’t just about alternative learning, it’s about alternative feeding.
That’s why we’ve launched FOR SCHOOLS’ SAKE: HELP US FEED OUR NATION’S KIDS!
This new campaign encourages each and every one of us — athletes, entertainers, chefs, influencers, businesses, farmers, and folks like you and me — to raise our hands for schools’ sake to help feed our nation’s youth.
We invite generous folks to come heart in hand — as the campaign’s graphic depicts — to help all the front line workers, the school nutrition professionals, staff, and volunteers, who are the real heroes in our communities feeding hungry kids and families. Collectively, they’re just one example of the everyday superheroes popping up during this time all over the country. But they’re among the most important.
The FOR SCHOOLS’ SAKE campaign is an opportunity for us to say thank you to our superintendents and school nutrition personnel. But more importantly it’s a way to answer their needs by providing their school feeding sites up to $3,000 in grants to purchase supplies for meal distribution and delivery. Various methods being deployed include: Grab and Go, drive-through pickup, bus-stop drop-off, and use of summer meal sites. The funds we’re providing pay for food-storage equipment, single-serve packaging, sanitation and safety and protective gear, and food-delivery expenses. School districts do not have budgets for these expenses.
To fund these grants, GENYOUth has established a COVID-19 EMERGENCY SCHOOL NUTRITION FUND.
Thus far we have the initial, significant, and much appreciated commitment of America’s dairy farmers, the American Beverage Association, Arby’s Foundation, Berkshire Hathaway Energy, NFL Foundation, PayPal, PepsiCo Foundation, and TD Ameritrade. They all represent a solid foundation of support. But much more will be needed to meet the demand for help during this unprecedented time.
As we have often heard before, it really does take a village . . . and we are the village. I salute the School Superintendents’ Association (AASA) as well as the Council of the Great City Schools who’ve provided invaluable guidance to us in this. Superintendents really are at the front lines in the pandemic, and none more so than Superintendent Alberto Carvalho of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, who has provided us with almost daily insights around the challenges of feeding in one the largest urban school districts in the nation. Our dedicated, hardworking colleagues at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service, and the School Nutrition Association, have been priceless advisors and partners. Thank you!
And now to YOU. How might you do your best?
Over the last three weeks I have placed more calls, made more asks, and pleaded for more help than at any other time in my life. My mom said to me, “Ali, what makes you think you can save the world?!” My response is simple. Yes, I am but one individual who can only do so much. But if I can embolden just one more person to do the same, we can ignite a movement. And if we can together create a catalytic effect, maybe, just maybe, we can help America’s youth when they need us most — and in the process, create hope in a pretty dark time. And as we’re learning daily, a little hope, a little faith and a whole lot of kindness go a long way.
To learn more about how to apply for a COVID-19 Emergency School Nutrition Fund grant click here.
To learn more about how to donate to our COVID-19 Emergency School Nutrition Fund click here.
Alexis Glick is chief executive officer of GENYOUth, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating healthier school communities through programs in partnership with the National Football League and the National Dairy Council. She is a frequent national television commentator on topics related to global business, the financial markets and CEO leadership trends. She advises CEOs and professional athletes.