Our journey has become our destination.
It was in 2014 when our Founder, a world traveler, immigrant and now an American Dad, learned something surprising about the American elementary school system. His daughter Lily and her friend Emma entered Pre-K together and soon became close friends. One day, Lily decided she wanted to have a sleep over at Emma's. She asked her Father to drop her off at her friend Emma's house. On the way to Emma's, Lily asked her Dad to buy her some food for Emma. First he said "No" as he thought it may be inappropriate without Emma's parents' approval. Lily persisted, saying "Emma does not have enough food at home," she said. "That's why I always share my food with Emma at school."
It was shocking to her immigrant Father. He could not fathom the thought that hunger existed in a wealthy country such as America. He assumed that food stamps and free school lunches would keep poor children from going hungry. Dad spoke with the school administrators and other educators and discovered that every day more than fifteen (15) million American children were victims of hunger and malnutrition. He learned that for most of these kids, their school lunch was their only reliable source of a nutritious meal each day. Dad found it incredible that despite the volume of food donations, restaurants, farmers, grocery chains, the investment of billions of American tax dollars in agriculture and the efficient distribution and ample resources, the US was allowing millions of its own children to suffer and starve. It was so bad that America became the first civilized country to legislate a mandate to feed its children. The US Congress passed bill S.3307, the "Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010". The law was hailed as landmark initiative.
At first, Dad was sad and frustrated that his Daughter had to be part of the solution. After all, something as simple as providing a plate of food each day for a hungry child should not have required an act of Congress. Sadly, even ten (10) years after S.3307 was passed, the number of American children and adults suffering from hunger and malnutrition continues to grow. What happened to the famous dictum "it takes a village to raise a child". Where is the village when so many children need them?
Familiar with the power of innovation to solve pressing problems, the Dad decided he had to get involved. He began to experiment with a revolutionary idea - the development of distributed, mobile, soil-free farming. Using a modern farming technology developed by NASA in the mid 1960's to grow food in space, Dad started working with leaders in Aeroponics to grow food without sunlight or soil. Dad's pilot aeroponics garden was set up at West Side Elementary School in Warner Robins, GA. The objective was to test a model named LEGS (Learn, Eat, Give & SUSTAIN/SELL). As the name suggests, the purpose of the pilot was for young students to learn about hi-tech modern methods of growing food, so that they might be able to play a part in solving this problem. In the pilot, the children would be able to learn about growing vegetables and then eat the food they grew - possibly even providing excess food to community members in need. They would also be able to sell the surplus produce to local restaurants and food stores to sustain the operations of the pilot without having to seek any funding from the government or local charities.
The project made national headlines, got extensive coverage in the media and was ranked as the best implementation model. The principal, Dr.Cynthia Hammond became the Distinguished Principal of the Year 2018 in the State of Georgia for her implementation of LEGS model. The pilot attracted the attention of then USDA Administrator (FNS) Audrey Rowe, an architect with First Lady Michele Obama of the "Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010". Audrey Rowe visited the West Side Elementary farm and hailed it as a brilliant model for solving local hunger. The model resulted in the children raising the village instead of the other way around. There were heart-warming stories, and tears of joy.
Thats where our journey became a destination. We believe that while all government, private organizations, food suppliers, and charitable organizations are trying to do the right things to combat this serious problem, we realized we should attempt to do right things the right way. That realization empowered our vision of helping to solve human and social challenges through the creation of disruptive models for addressing the hunger problem differently.
If solving human misery had been profitable, many for-profit corporations would have solved it - maybe even McDonalds or others in the food industry. Why not ? There is absolutely nothing wrong with capitalizing on human misery to profit from it by SOLVING it - by feeding hungry children. So that has become a guiding principal in our existence. We are now building the next generation of urban farms using advanced technologies proven by NASA. We are taking food to the people where and when and in the quantities they need. Hunger has no place in humanity. Child hunger has no place in America.
Join us in this journey and you'll find a little more joy in your life.