The Food Project: Youth. Food. Community.

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Gala 2013 - Talking about Community

At our 2nd Annual Gala - Celebrate the Harvest on September 10, 2013, three interns presented a dynamic speaking series highlighting their personal encounters with youth, food, and community, the three intersection points of The Food Project's triangular mission. Over the course of the coming week, we will be posting transcripts of their speeches, along with a live video recording that might include some deviations from the planned script. 



Rodney Sadberry

Milton, MA

The Food Project, 2013 Gala Talk – Community

Hello everyone I’m Rodney Sadberry and I’m sixteen years old from Milton, MA. Before I get started, I want everyone to take about two seconds to think of what comes to your mind when I say “community.”

I don’t know what your words are, but when I think of community, I think of love, comfort, selflessness and empowerment and something I call the “I got you” mentality.

This past summer I was an Assistant Crew Leader at The Food Project and was assigned to a Crew of youth who were assigned to a Hunger Relief Organization every Wednesday called the Red Cross Food Pantry.

At The Red Cross Food Pantry, a part of our work was assisting Food Pantry participants by carrying bags of food to their cars. I remember this one time I was carrying the bags to the car of a mother and her small, cute little girl who was holding a little stuffed dog. The little girl had this sad look on her face that nearly broke my heart.

On the way to their car I was talking to the mother and little girl asking them how their day was, where they were off to next etc. When I got to the car and put the bags in, I’ll never forget this moment when the mother gave me this look that said thank you. It was one of those looks that changes something inside me – those loving eyes that touched me and made me feel something that I can’t possibly put into words. Then the little girl came up to me and hugged my leg so tight, looked up at me with the most adorable eyes, and said “Thank you” with the sweetest most innocent voice in the world.

And at that moment I thought of those words  love, comfort, selflessness, and empowerment. I experienced the power of those words at the Food Pantry that afternoon. 

The truth is, at The Food Project, I have myself received love and comfort.

I have learned the power and possibility of selflessness. 

I am empowered in real, tangible ways to make a difference in my community, in large part because of my experience at The Food Project.

This “I got you mentality” is one that I see and know and can offer others.

At the Food Pantry, I was able to love and offer comfort to every single person I talked to whether it was for one or 10 minutes. For every person I gave a bag of food, I was able to support their journey of self-empowerment.

On that day at the Food Pantry, after the little girl squeezed my leg and said “thank you”, the woman began to shed a tear and said “I’m going to miss you guys so much.” She said, “Whatever this organization is, they are instilling you with values that nobody can take away from you.”

She said the energy and love we brought to that place was life changing and if we keep going down the path we were set on, we could be on top of the world some day. Then she hugged me and, said “God bless you” and drove away.

Love, comfort, selflessness and empowerment – these are my words to describe community.  All together, they make up the “I got you mentality.”

Can all of the TFP youth stand up?  Everyone else, take a look around. Think of the impact each and every one of these youth have in their community, on the lives of people in their surrounding communities each and each and every day because of The Food Project.

Now multiply that number by 10, 20, 22, 40 and more. I promise you, even when you do the math, you will not begin to grasp the magnitude of impact that Food Project youth have in our communities, on our society, and someday on the world.

That’s what The Food Project is – an organization that offers love, comfort, selflessness and empowerment to youth and expects youth to go out and do the same.

And that’s why I love it beyond belief.

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