How Innovation Is Helping to End Hunger

How Innovation Is Helping to End Hunger

By: Shondra Jenkins
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How innovation and technology are used to fight hunger @sodexoUSA #PoweringChange

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Shondra Jenkins, Executive Director, Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation

Monday, June 12, 2017 - 2:40pm

CAMPAIGN: Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation


In the world of fighting hunger, innovation comes in many forms. It can come from a new use of technology—like our Stephen J. Brady Stop Hunger Scholar Jack Griffin, who developed an app that uses GPS to tell people in need where they can find a food bank. Other times, it can be using an old technology in a new way, such as using food trucks to create mobile kitchens that bring hot meals to people in need, a method employed by other Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation grant recipients.

Sometimes innovation comes from simple ideas put together in a new way. Think about programs that offer backpacks full of healthy food to kids who don’t have enough to eat on the weekends. At one time, that was just a great idea—a convenient, kid-friendly way to help those in need. Now, backpacks are helping kids all over the country. This school year alone, Sodexo-supported Backpack Food Programs distributed 577,000 backpacks, containing 2.3 million meals in partnership with 51 clients.

We never know where that next great idea will come from. Often it’s just a spark of an idea that must be nurtured into something greater. For example, in 2011, a University of Maryland student named Ben Simon realized how much of the food served in his college cafeteria was going to waste. He worked with the dining team and with fellow students to rescue food and donate it to organizations serving people in need.

The Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation gave Ben a grant to turn his group into a nonprofit called Food Recovery Network. It soon ballooned from four sites to 227 across the country. To date, the group has rescued more than two million pounds of surplus food. Of that, over 300,000 pounds of food was rescued at sites operated by Sodexo. What started as one college student’s idea now engages more than 2,500 volunteers every year. It continues to grow with no signs of slowing down.

From an idea to 300,000 pounds of food rescued—that’s the power of innovation. That’s why we must to continue to innovate and to push ourselves. We continue to ask ourselves how to make the system better.

There is so much to be done, and we need new ideas to do it.  We need people to bring new ideas and new energy to the fight. So we challenge you, today, to think of ways you can fight hunger in your own life, whether it’s by taking a smaller portion to reduce wasted food, donating some of the produce from your garden to a food pantry, or donating money to a hunger-fighting organization.

What are you going to do in your life to help in the fight against hunger? Share your ideas with us in the comments on Sodexo Insights.