In February 2021, No Child Goes Hungry (NCGH) donated a community refrigerator to Odyssey Charter Schools in Wilmington, Delaware to help preserve its campus-grown produce and student-produced meal kits it donates to families in need. According to Melissa Blair Tracy, a teacher at Odyssey Charter Schools who is leading the School’s community garden program, the refrigerator has been a gamechanger.
“We use it to refrigerate everything we harvest,” said Tracy. “For example, yesterday, we harvested 100 pounds of herbs and lettuce. We packaged it and refrigerated it overnight. One of our partners, a local church, picked up the produce today. They feature it in a weekly food prescription box. Everything is delivered, which removes any hurdles.”
To further her commitment to mitigating food insecurity in the Wilmington area Tracy and her students are tackling their next big project.
“I’m moving to a new space on campus,” said Tracy. “We have limited storage in our current location and we are expanding our outreach to include several new organizations including Urban Acres Produce. They help us directly deliver our fresh produce and meal kits to people in need.”
To help support the the program’s expansion, No Child Goes Hungry has donated two metal storage units to store additional pantry items to facilitate the creation of a greater number of meal kits.
“The price of food is so high right now,” said Tracy. “Due to cost, fresh produce is not a priority for many of the individuals and families we serve. We are trying to fill that big gap.”
According to NCGH Founder and Director Kären Rasmussen, the increasing cost of food has been complicating community food distribution and non-profit support efforts.
“Not only is the cost of food making it even harder for families to put food on the table, but it’s creating challenges for non-profits and food distribution organizations looking to support those in need,” said Rasmussen. “I’m pleased to continue to support Odyssey Charter Schools as they find innovative ways to pivot their approach to address addres the needs of those in need in their community as economic and supply chain factors continue to exacerbate the challenge of food insecurity.”
“We are so grateful to No Child Goes Hungry for supporting our efforts to assist people in need,” said Tracy.
Odyssey’s Food Studies CTE Pathway, with its unique focus on combating food insecurity in Wilmington, was recently selected by the Delaware Chamber of Commerce as a recipient of the Superstars in Education award.
“No Child Goes Hungry’s ongoing support has helped us grow and expand,” added Tracy. “We are so, so grateful!”
No Child Goes Hungry (NCGH) is pleased to provide a donation to Odyssey Charter Schools in Wilmington, Delaware, to purchase a community refrigerator to help preserve its campus-grown produce and student-produced meal kits it donates to families in need. The refrigerator was purchased through a collaborative effort with a $1000 grant from the Healthier, Greener, Kinder Foundation, $500 from NCGH, and $500 in fundraising from Melissa Blair Tracy, a teacher at Odyssey Charter Schools who is leading the School’s community garden program.
Odyssey Charter Schools has taken an innovative and impactful approach to support its community’s food insecurity needs and teaching students the values of homegrown sustenance and philanthropy. It is currently operating two garden programs to help support its community’s families’ meal and health needs under the leadership of Tracy, who is passionate about food justice and healthy eating.
From March to November, we grow leafy greens and fruiting crops in our outdoor vegetable garden,” said Tracy. “We donate 100 percent of our garden’s crop to people in need, particularly children. We donate eighty percent of the harvested produce to food-insecure families with children, and the remainder is consumed on-site by nearly 2,000 students at our KN-twelfth grade school. In addition to the produce, my students assemble culturally responsive and plant-based meal kits. We pair the hydroponically grown produce with donated food items. Our team of volunteers manages the garden in the summer in the absence of students.”
The School currently has 34 raised beds and a vertical garden with over 500 planters.
“We also have chickens and goats on our campus,” added Tracy. “We donate all our eggs. I also manage a large hydroponic lab with my students via an extracurricular club called ‘Girls Grow Greens’ and a semester-long course called Food Studies. Next year, I will also teach a hands-on hydroponics course. In the lab, we grow 3,000 leafy greens per month as well as tomatoes and peppers year-round. In particular, the need for leafy greens is huge in the winter. We help fill that void.”
Odyssey Charter Schools will use the grant from the Healthier, Greener, Kinder Foundation, and No Child Goes Hungry to help purchase an Avantco SS-2R-4-HC 54” Stainless Steel Solid Half Door Reach-In Refrigerator for the School’s cafeteria. With the on-campus refrigerator, Tracy and her students can refrigerate their freshly harvested vegetables from their outdoor school garden and student-run hydroponic lab. Until now, without the refrigerator, Tracy says that over 200 pounds of produce are wasted due to food safety protocols. The students are limited by what they can add to their meal kits due to an inability to refrigerate certain ingredients.
“We are so grateful to No Child Goes Hungry and the Healthier, Greener, Kinder Foundation for their donation to Odyssey Charter Schools,” said Tracy. “Having a fridge is truly a gamechanger for us.”
The Healthier, Greener, Kinder Foundation was established to support innovative projects that will help make the world a healthier, greener, kinder place. The foundation was created by a married couple who follow a vegan lifestyle, believe deeply in the inherent worth and dignity of every being, and ascribe to the principle of ahimsa. Ahimsa is a concept recognized by some of the world’s major religions, and it aligns with the premise that all living beings have a spark of divine spiritual energy.
Leigh Scott, Co-Founder, and Director of the Healthier, Greener, Kinder Foundation, says she hopes Tracy and her students inspire other organizations, student groups, and individuals to create similarly sustainable, healthy, and philanthropic programs.
“Odyssey Charter Schools’ community garden program represents everything we believe in at the Healthier, Greener, Kinder Foundation,” said Scott. “Their work proves that kindness and generosity come from within and can be grown from the earth. We are thrilled that our partner, No Child Goes Hungry, has connected us with Odyssey Charter Schools to make their dream of a community refrigerator a reality.”
Rev. Kären Rasmussen, No Child Goes Hungry Founder and Director, says that her partnership with the Healthier, Greener, Kinder Foundation and Odyssey Charter Schools demonstrates the power of uniting those generous spirits who want to assuage hunger insecurity with those grassroots groups working to provide healthy meals to those in need.
“This partnership perfectly represents the philosophy of No Child Goes Hungry,” said Rev. Rasmussen. “We are all about connections—connecting those in need to local resources and connecting those who want to help with those who know how to make an impact. I am thrilled that No Child Goes Hungry could be a conduit to amplify the generosity of both the Healthier, Greener, Kinder Foundation and Odyssey Charter Schools and that we were able to align their missions to achieve even greater results.”
To learn how NCGH can help support your local hunger advocacy initiative, contact us today.