Five years ago I was shocked to discover active military families lined up for hours to get food from charity in San Diego. That was the first time I became aware of who the new face of hunger is and the staggering statistics about food insecurity. One in five Americans don’t know where their next meal is coming from, yet 96 billion pounds of good food rot in landfills annually. I found it outrageous that precious resources, like food, are needlessly wasted, filling dumpsters and producing methane gas pollution, thus hurting our environment. Since I was 12, I have been working to change the paradigm of needless commercial food waste and, in the process, it has shaped who I am. Having a good idea isn’t enough, it’s more about creating collaborations, inspiration, empowerment, and having a tenacious attitude in overcoming obstacles. I’ve learned so much about hunger, the environment, and that young people really can make a difference. Teens care about helping the environment and the hungry, but both issues can seem overwhelmingly large and insurmountable. One of my greatest motivations for Donate Don’t Dump was to provide an easy way for young people to get involved and help shape the future we will inherit. From elementary schools to universities, we create opportunities for young people to get involved. We create ripples of change that I hope will become a tidal wave similar to the recycling movement and in the process alleviate hunger and help the environment. We need your help! Please consider getting involved to make change happen. Contact us for more information. You can make a difference at any age.
Posts tagged ‘California’
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“FOOD FOR THOUGHT Seventeen-year-old-Gabrielle Posard is the founder of Donate Don’t Dump, enlisting impressive clients like Whole Foods and Mamma Chia to help reduce food waste and combat hunger. – See more at: http://www.modernluxury.com/riviera-san-diego/story/the-givers#sthash.DLQfIIGp.dpuf
THE GIRL WONDER
Gabrielle Posard’s bedroom has the typical teenage trappings: posters of her favorite band (The Smiths) and scattered pics of friends and family. Well, except that client checklist on the desk for her charity, Donate Don’t Dump, started when she was 12 (?!). The organization has since been featured in People and recently won her a President’s Environment Youth Award, complete with a trip to the White House. “I just have a problem with inefficiencies,” says Posard, who signs her work emails “Founder & Big Cheese.” “I saw that there was a huge amount of food waste and people who needed that food, so, to me, that’s a solvable problem.” Whole Foods? Check. Albertsons? Check. Mamma Chia and the North County Food Bank? They’re all jumping on board with the Donate Don’t Dump program, which takes food that would have otherwise ended up in a dumpster and donates it to food banks. “It’s such an easy concept that I was surprised no one else was really doing it,” says Posard, who was inspired to start DDD after her big sister made a documentary about hunger. “At the end of the day, it’s good PR for the people who are donating and they get a tax write-off.” Posard has left her mark on every aspect of her charity, even designing DDD’s logo, a clever take on the cyclical recycling emblem. But nonetheless, when she first started DDD, CEOs and execs were understandably skeptical when she would arrive for meetings. “It wasn’t easy at first. I’m taking meetings with people who are working in the business world, and here I come, this short little kid, asking them to redo their business policies. I’m pretty sure at one of the meetings one of the guys in charge patted me on the head, so there was a struggle to get people to take me seriously.” Now those same execs are desperately trying to get a meeting with her when she’s not speaking with senators in Sacramento, where she’s trying to get the DDD program into all the Cal State schools. Even with college on the horizon, she has other philanthropic ventures in mind. “I’ve had my life planned out since I was 9. I want to get into clean energy next. I don’t think I could do anything in the future that wasn’t helping others.” Still, she has to finish high school first. “It used to be my secret charity life, but now everybody knows,” she says through laughter. “It’s so big that my classmates’ parents ask them if they know me.”
While I am not old enough to vote, I was able to co-sponsor legislation as part of the San Diego Hunger Advocacy Network to help financially struggling military families in California. Co-sponsoring legislation was exciting, frustrating, and ultimately inspiring process thad me constantly humming School House Rock’s “I’m Just A Bill”.
Excitement at the possibility of helping military personnel put food on the table was my first phase in this process. Several years ago my older sister filmed active military families in line for hours to get free food from charities for a student documentary. While I was only 12, that discovery set me on path to create a national charity and then four years later to a Senator’s office making a pitch for his “yes” vote to pass my “No Hunger For Heroes” Bill. My little teen non-profit partners with the heavy weights like Feeding America, San Diego Hunger Coalition, and North County Food Bank who actually treat me like part of their team and provide us amazing opportunities to make a difference. Every year we fly to Sacramento to lobby law makers on Hunger Action Day, but this time was extra special because we had legislation pending. Having worked on passing “Zero Waste” legislation previously, I was familiar with some of the aspects of turning an idea into a law, but co-sponsoring legislation is very different. That bill is your little guy and you want don’t want to see him sitting on the steps of the Capitol Building singing sadly.
The legislative process is very complicated; it generates a lot of paperwork, emails, and adults talking in acronyms. There are so many procedures and so many bills, that the very law makers who author them don’t always keep them straight. Seriously, I was in a meeting with a State Senator who didn’t remember the bill he was just asked about was one of his. One of the big hurdles for my bill was getting past the Appropriations Committee, where a few key elected leaders debate new legislation especially about cost. As our bill had a cost associated with helping active military families, who struggle put food on the table, “concessions” had to be made. Now that infuriated me, because there are certain priorities I think we need to have as a nation and making sure our troops can adequately feed their families is one of them. We ask 1% of our population to protect the other 99% of us, move them around a bunch, don’t pay them much, and then deploy them over and over again to places where they get shot at. Even in tough economic times we need to have a safety net for these Americans. While upset that my bill was trimmed, it could still help military families; especially soon to be veterans who can’t re-enlist due to the troop cut backs.
With procedure deadlines looming our little guy made it out of the Appropriations Committee and went to the Senate floor for a vote. The California Senate voted unanimously for our bill and so too did the State Assembly. The Governor signed our “No Hunger For Heroes” bill a few weeks later and our little guy finally got that shinny gold seal, fancy paper, and became law. How are laws are made is complicated, but it works. It is inspiring to think that in our country even if you aren’t old enough to vote, you can be a part of the legislative process. My experience also made me painfully aware that the hungry and the environment don’t have the big teams of high powered lobbyists. Those types of legislative issues fall to people like us. In order to ensure our government is “Of the people, for the people”, we need to get past the frustrations of politics and actively participate. Without us, law makers only need to remember the bills proposed by the guys in the expensive suits, not the ones lobbied for by a girl with braces.