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Last week, we hosted 18 high school students from across the Atlanta Community Food Bank’s service area for the summer’s first Youth Summit on Hunger and Poverty. Through interactive and hands-on experiences, the annual four-day summit educates teens about hunger and poverty issues in Georgia and our nation.
This year, the students had not one, but four different opportunities to volunteer for their community. On the first day, they gardened at Habesha Community Garden at The Dunbar Center. They pulled weeds and laid down cardboard and wood mulch to inhibit weed growth in the walkways. They also had the opportunity to volunteer at two different mobile food pantries, getting right into the heart of what we do--helping our agencies distribute food to those in need. Finally, they worked a shift in the place most of our volunteers know and love: the Product Rescue Center where food and grocery products are inspected, sorted and packed into boxes.
The education didn’t stop as they played the Community Food Game and toured the Food Bank. Many commented that one of the most impactful moments of the Summit was being able to see a screening of a documentary we’ve done some talking about on this blog - “A Place at the Table”. After viewing the movie, they shared their reflections and wrote letters to congress about the impact of hunger on their communities. The letters should make quite a statement, as they were simply written with marker on empty paper plates.
The Youth Summit is always a chance for us food bankers to see the issue of hunger through their eyes and be inspired by their responses. Their participation isn’t intended to end after four days - each student creates action plans to implement back in their own neighborhoods. We’re proud of these kids and look forward to seeing many of them again!