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June 28, 2013

Investing in Students: Educator Witnesses the Impact of Service Learning

Through the Service Learning Program, students
participate in activities that teach the impact
of our services.
“When I grow up, I want to be a chef!”

Tiffany Johnson will never forget these words spoken by one of her students after he participated in Food & Friends’ Service Learning Program. As the Assistant Principal of Whittier Education Campus, she has seen firsthand the impact this program has on her students.

“With Food & Friends, I realized that being involved in service learning does so much for them. It builds their character, encourages them to give to their community, allows them to work as a team and gives them a sense of value…because of that, I see a huge difference in them at school.”

In the case of this particular student, Tiffany was surprised to see his new found motivation and focus. In the past, the student had minor behavioral issues; she had never seen him so focused on and interested in an activity. She attributes this change to the learning environment offered by Food & Friends and the value that was placed on the student’s volunteer experience.

“As soon as he [a student] arrived at Food & Friends, he instantly felt a connection with one of the chefs and they fostered a relationship,” says Tiffany. “In addition to learning about what the chef does on a daily basis, the student had the opportunity to give back to the community which contributed to the way he viewed himself. He felt like Food & Friends was invested in him.”

Each student participating in the program packages and/or delivers meals to clients and takes part in custom-designed workshops that tie in their volunteer experience with real world issues. Since its creation in 2000, the program has grown tremendously. Nearly 1,400 students participated during the 2012-2013 school year. 

This success would not be possible without the support of partners like AT&T, which has demonstrated a true investment in service learning and in the wellness of our community.

Each year, hundreds of students volunteer
through the Service Learning Program.
“Food & Friends’ Service Learning Program is a unique and refreshing approach to engaging with the community and one we’re pleased to support,” said Beth Shiroishi, Vice President, Sustainability and Philanthropy, AT&T. “By integrating student volunteers into their meal delivery service; they provide a tangible and motivational experience for students, going above and beyond their core mission. Through the program, Food & Friends excels at promoting learning opportunities and addressing a community need—two attributes we highly value at AT&T.”

The Service Learning Program has been successful in forging a unique collaboration between Food & Friends, schools, AT&T and community partners that are critical to supporting student success. For students like Tiffany’s, a partnership like this is invaluable and instrumental in creating a well-rounded education.

Tiffany has already scheduled Whittier’s next service learning dates and is excited to witness more of the impact of the program on her students.

“For students to still be invested in an organization months after working there speaks volumes about the program and we can’t wait to be back in the kitchen volunteering.”

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