HEADLINES

Ridgefield Middle Schooler Ruby Weiner Receives Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation Youth Grant to Fight Childhood Hunger

Ruby Weiner, a 6th Grade Student at Scott's Ridge Middle School and Cadette Girl Scout from Ridgefield, CT has been awarded a Sodexo Stop Hunger FoundaHon Youth Grant through Youth Service America (YSA). The grant will support Ruby Weiner in leading a community service project that addresses the issue of childhood hunger.

1 in 6 people (more than 50 million people), including 1 in 4 children (approximately 17 million children) in the United States are experiencing food insecurity in 2021. This is a problem that can be solved, and young people are a part of the solution. Youth-led activities will take place on Global Youth Service Day, April 23-25, 2021.

Story of Award Winner, Ruby Weiner

During quarantine of 2020, Ruby Weiner dropped off canned goods at The Little Pantry, located near St. Stephen’s Church in Ridgefield, CT, and saw the shelves were pretty light. This visual weighed on Ruby, and the following day she asked her mother, Patty Labozzo if they could go back to drop off more cans. When they got to The Little Pantry, Ruby realized every can she brought the day before was gone. How? Her mother explained that The Little Pantry was seeing more activity than usual as many Ridgefielders were out of work, the town pantry was not open for walk-ins, and many area families were experiencing food insecurity.

Seeking more of an understanding, Ruby contacted Linda Hutchings, who organizes the Little Pantry and is the Food Sourcing Manager of Community Food Rescue. Linda gave Ruby the cold facts on local food insecurity. Ruby Weiner decided she had to do more, give more — and decided there was a definite need for a second Little Pantry.

Up until this time, when Ruby wanted to raise money for a donation or a Girl Scout Community Service Project, she relied on recycling bottles for cash, her chore money, or birthday money. How could she cover the cost of something as expensive as a second Little Pantry? Ruby’s mother suggested Ruby look into a grant to cover costs.

For months, Ruby spent her free time looking up grants online, understanding the process, reviewing requirements. One grant caught her eye, the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation Youth Grant. She took weeks gathering information for the application, completed it, and emailed it in with much hope.

And on Friday, 2/21/2021, she was given the good news that she was selected to receive a Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation Youth Grant.

She will now begin the process of creating a second Little Pantry for Ridgefield, CT.

Free-standing Little Pantries are the perfect way to help feed the community while safely social distancing. They offer sealed/canned/packaged food to children and their families 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Little Pantries are discreet and are based on the take-what-you-need, bring-what-you-can honor system.

Ruby will soon be reaching out to her community and Ridgefield Girl Scouts for volunteers to help her design, build, place and fill the second Little Pantry. Her goal is to make the second Little Pantry child-focused, with shelves designed to accommodate baby food jars, sealed diapers and wipes, baby toiletries, fragrance-free detergents, and more. A special area for “birthday boxes for kids” with cake mixes and canned frosting will also be created within this freestanding Little Pantry.

Weiner is one of 106 young leaders across the country awarded grants to organize projects to help end childhood hunger. Grantees will educate and mobilize their peers around the issue to help end childhood hunger through awareness, service, advocacy, and philanthropic activities. They join millions of other young people around the world as part of Global Youth Service Day, April 23-25, 2021. Celebrating 33 years of youth changing the world, Global Youth Service Day (GYSD) is the largest youth service and civic action event in the world.

“We strive to encourage youth-led iniHaHves providing innovative solutions to help fight childhood hunger because this is an issue no one person, team, or organization can solve alone,” explained Gerri Mason Hall, Sodexo Stop Hunger FoundaHon Chair and Chief Diversity and Sustainability Officer for the Americas. “I am humbled by the quality and volume of applications we receive each year,” said Roxanne Moore, Executive Director, Sodexo Stop Hunger FoundaHon. “Helping and supporting these youth grantees - ordinary people that make themselves extraordinary - brings the Stop Hunger FoundaHon closer to its objective of working toward zero hunger in the U.S. By investing in their efforts on GYSD, we hope to ignite the passion in other young people to join the fight against child hunger.”

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