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December 14, 2012

Engaging Youth through Service Learning Program

Half of the 12,000 volunteers who join us annually are under the age of 25. Last school year, more than 1,000 of our youth volunteers participated in our Service Learning Program. Through this program, we engage students in traditional community service and highlight educational activities. Some students even receive on-the-job training to prepare for life after school.
Food & Friends engages thousands
of youth every year through its
Service Learning Program

This year, we will continue to enhance our Service Learning Program with help from Youth Service America (YSA). YSA’s mission is to improve communities by increasing the number and diversity of young people serving in substantive roles. Food & Friends was chosen as a Lead Sodexo Organizer, meaning we will recruit and assist at least 10 community partners in growing their volunteer and service learning programs. The kick-off for recruitment started in October at the Youth Service Institute conference in Houston, Texas.

As part of our partnership with Sodexo, I had the opportunity to attend this three-day event designed to introduce the latest and most effective strategies for quality youth engagement. My primary objective for attending was to share ideas and learn from other people working in this field. I was honored to share Food & Friends’ successes in recruiting charter schools, and how we use surveys to track progress in our afterschool students. New contacts taught me to focus school recruitment around a day like Global Youth Service Day, and a few organizations shared useful lesson plans designed to prepare classes before volunteering.

We're participating in GYSD this year!
Check out our opportunities for youth that week!
Now, back at Food & Friends, we are discussing ways to incorporate some of these new ideas into our program. We love working with our youth volunteers and want to ensure they are part of a top quality program. Based on the growth we’ve experienced in recent years, we know Service Learning will continue to grow and serve more local high school students. This unique experience provides a glimpse into community service and exposes youth to valuable lessons that are not taught in a classroom.

For more information regarding Service Learning, please contact me at or at (202) 269-6832.

Angela Gaudette is the Service Learning Coordinator at Food & Friends. She has been a member of our team for over three years. Prior to Food & Friends, she worked in Los Angeles as the Youth Resource Coordinator at an afterschool program. Among Angela’s favorite things are working with students, cooking, gardening and her recent Ironman Wisconsin finish.

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