Looking for an uplifting story to brighten your day? Recently, we told you about the University of California’s “30 Under 30” awards. These inaugural awards – sponsored by UC’s Global Food Initiative – recognize young leaders for their extraordinary work helping to solve the global food crisis.
Each of the 30 winners is inspirational in different ways, and together their work represents a variety of unique and results-oriented programs across the nation and globe. Here are just four examples of how these young leaders are making a difference in our world:
Caroline Cahill, 25 – Feeding Children in America
As a member of Feeding America Child Hunger Corps, this young leader has worked to complete community needs assessment programs in Alabama, Florida and Mississippi, establishing goals and securing funding for new child hunger and multidimensional community health programs for the rural South.
Caroline tells us:
“I think what people in my generation can do is become actively engaged in the conversation. They can engage with their members of Congress and work with organizations that want to promote the health of the whole family. That’s the only way we’re going to be healthier as a nation.”
Chris Massa, 27 – Supporting Farmers of Today and Tomorrow
Inspired by historical wartime gardens, Chris Massa is building a school farm in Ventura, California that will grow 8,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables a year. The innovative farm will provide nutritious school meals and invaluable hands-on educational opportunities. He hopes it becomes a national model for other school districts.
Chris tells us:
“A big thing is student participation in the school lunch program. Revenue comes from getting kids to buy school lunch. … having kids plant, weed, harvest and taking fruits and vegetables to the cafeteria mean they’ll be more likely to eat it. They tell their friends and maybe more kids will want to buy the school lunch. And a big benefit could be that kids are more willing and accustomed to eating fresh fruits and vegetables…and they are also learning about agriculture.”
Katie Stagliano, 17 – Ending Hunger, One Garden at a Time
The youngest 30 Under 30 winner is only 17 years old. But her story started when she was even younger.
At 9 years old, Katie Stagliano grew a 40-pound cabbage in her home garden. She donated that huge cabbage to her local soup kitchen, and it fed more than 275 people. Inspired by that experience, she started Katie’s Krops.
Today, her non-profit has 100 gardens around the country, all grown by kids who are donating healthy fresh foods to feed the hungry in their communities. She tells us:
“Katie’s Krops Growers are the next generation of agriculturists, nutritionists and leaders in the fresh food industry. By empowering young growers we are not only having an impact on the health and well-being of communities, we are shaping future leaders. It is vital that youth have an understanding of the origin of the food they eat and with a growing world population how we can increase production of healthy fresh food.”
Fortino Morales III, 28 – Teaching about Food Justice and Local Foods
This young leader is manager of UC Riverside’s 3.2-acre community garden – R’Garden – an enterprise he helped launch as a student activist. The productive garden is now teaching college students about agriculture, botany, food justice, gardening, sustainability, global food security and much more. Organizers are developing a solar water heater and dehydrator, as well as a solar greenhouse. As a result, they are working completely off grid.
Fortino tells us:
“We can’t fix all the problems, but it’s really also about starting to ask deeper questions about the food system, sustainability and food access. The work is both theoretical and experiential. The garden provides a tangible answer to some of these things.”
Readers may enjoy reading about all 30 Under 30 winners. Look for more of their stories on our pages soon!