Ellie is a senior at North Cobb High School in Kennesaw who attended the June 2014 session of the Youth Summit on Hunger and Poverty held at the Atlanta Community Food Bank (ACFB). Over the course of the Summit, Ellie and 19 other teens learned how hunger and poverty impacts their community through educational sessions and activities; they also served the community by volunteering at a community garden, mobile food pantry, and ACFB’s Product Rescue Center. Each student made a commitment to complete a Hunger Fighting Action Step during the next school year.
Ellie is following through with her commitment in a big way. With the support of her family, Ellie is growing aeroponic lettuce at her home which she donates to The Center for Family Resources in Marietta. Aeroponics is the process of growing plants in an air or mist environment without the use of soil. Ellie said, “While experimenting with different crops in different seasons, I discovered that aeroponic lettuce grew generally well throughout the whole year. It also fully matures every three to four weeks, which makes it the perfect crop to donate on a monthly basis.”
Ellie credits a trip to China for inspiring her interest in hunger and poverty issues and the Youth Summit with bringing the issue of hunger locally to the forefront. She said, “The most surprising thing I learned from Youth Summit was how much of an issue hunger really is in our community. Before completing the Youth Summit program, I had no idea how many people relied on food banks and food pantries for their basic nutritional needs. I also did not know how hard it was to be qualified for government aid programs like Food Stamps. This educational and hands-on program was great for teaching me what was going on in my community, but it was amazing for inspiring me to take action in the cause to end hunger.”
Ellie made her first donation of 30 heads of lettuce in September 2014 with plans to donate monthly as long as the weather allows. “Making my first donation was an incredible experience. It was great to see that the lettuce that I had grown at my house was going to be used and appreciated by people in my community. That feeling keeps me motivated and excited to help more.”
Ellie is a wonderful example of the impact teens can have on their community and in the fight against hunger.
--Chris Ferguson, Education and Outreach Coordinator