By Lisa Nichols, CEO
How to change the world one bite at a time.
There are many things in this world that break my heart: racial discrimination, homelessness, the devaluing of life on any level, bullying, the list goes on. Of all of the issues I see in the world today, though, there are none that grip my heart more than the everyday plight that many under resourced children face. Children are solely dependent on the adults around them to provide for their basic needs and when the adults in their world are not capable of doing so the children are often left with no alternatives.
This year, we’ve taken the time to more clearly define our giving strategy. We’re focusing our efforts around three primary pillars:
- Meeting Basic Needs
- Promoting Education
- Supporting Economic Development
We call this company-wide initiative LIFT: Lives Impacted. Futures Transformed.
When I think of meeting basic needs, one of the first things that comes to mind is making sure that people have the life-sustaining food and water they need to survive. I am grateful Missouri has the free/reduced cost lunch program that ensures children from low-income families can have at least two meals a day during the school year. But, have you ever stopped to think about what happens to these same children when school is not in session? Feeding America’s “Map the Meal Gap 2016” study reveals that in Missouri, 1 in 6 children struggles with hunger. What a tragedy that any child in our great state struggles with hunger. We often think of third world countries facing these kinds of challenges, but right here in our own state our kids are suffering and it ought not to be so. How can we expect children to concentrate, much less make real progress in their day-to-day learning, when their tummies are empty?
The answer is, we can’t. When Sysco Foods approached Technology Partners about joining in the inaugural “Taste of the Nation St. Louis” event for No Kid Hungry, we did not hesitate – we were all in. There is still much work to be done, but that evening was a great start and the event raised almost $100K. All the proceeds from the event will help to provide healthy afterschool snacks and meals during the summer months for children in low-income families. That means kids who are dependent on school lunches during the year can get food when class isn’t in session. This is a powerful way to help those that need us the most, our children, get one of their primary needs met and grow into a powerful force for good in our world.
For those of us who can, let us come together to ensure ALL children have alternatives. The challenges are great, but I believe the hearts of Missouri’s people are greater!!!