(Above: Grayson Schmitz, middle, with fellow No Kid Hungry committee members. Photo Credit: Alex Akamine)
When she's not busy churning out show-stopping salads and mouth-watering entrees in the Larder kitchen, our Executive Chef Grayson Schmitz looks to lend her time and talents to the efforts of the nation-wide No Kid Hungry campaign.
No Kid Hungry is a campaign run by the non-profit Share Our Strength organization, which aims to end childhood hunger in the United States, especially amongst young students. In the past, Grayson has participated in No Kid Hungry through the Reboule de Rhone wine event and by serving as part of the host committee on Taste of the Nation. She's also helped organize the Cookies & Cue event in New York as the Culinary Chair for the last two years.
(Above: Futures Elementary & Community United Elementary School students. Photo Credit: Alex Akamine)
When No Kid Hungry invited her on a trip to a school partnered with the program, Grayson jumped at the chance. "It was extremely important for me to go on this trip," Grayson explained to me back at the Larder office, "because I wanted to see first-hand where the funds we raise are going to, and experience directly how this organization is helping the kids".
(Above, Left to right: James Weinlein, Jeremy Ford, Levon Wallace, and Grayson)
The entire trip was focused around a trip to the Futures Elementary & Community United Elementary School, located in Oakland, California. At the school, Grayson and her fellow chefs in the campaign were able to participate in "Breakfast After the Bell", a program implemented by No Kid Hungry in which the students partake in a school-wide daily breakfast before classes begin.
(Above: Grayson and fellow committee members. Photo Credit: Alex Akamine)
It's a program that has served schools well; there are reports that the kids in these programs are doing better academically, with increased participation and general overall performance. "It's awesome," Grayson said when asked of her opinion, "Their tummies are full, so they have brain power. A lot of these under-privileged kids-- you don't know when the last time they ate was...so to get to enjoy a meal at school- that's amazing".
(Above: Grayson with students during the Breakfast After the Bell program. Photo Credit: Alex Akamine)
Grayson was able to see the effect of the No Kid Hungry campaign in-person, as she walked around the cafeteria and mingled with the students. "All the kids sitting, eating, and chatting with each other- that's why this program is so important," Grayson explained, "It's like when you sit and eat a meal with your family; they're getting nourishment and forming a community with each other every day".
"Plus, the kids are great," Grayson said, "They're so well behaved and polite. And of course, their favorites of the meal are the Teddy Grahams and apple sauce."
"It's so important that people get involved," said Grayson, as she looked through photos from her trip on her phone, "If we don't speak up for these kids, no one will".
To get involved or to donate your resources, please visit www.NoKidHungry.org. Join the movement: no kid in America should go hungry.