It isn’t every day that a student from Sabetha, Kansas gets a chance to meet an international diplomat, but last Wednesday wasn’t just any other day. That’s when students representing Grains for Hope, a non-profit organization committed to providing populations in need with fortified grain product, attended the International Food Aid and Development Conference in Kansas City, Mo. On Wednesday, one of those students met with Mozambique Ambassador to the United States Amelia Matos Sumbana who was also in Kansas City for the conference. The Ambassador’s participation in the conference provided a unique opportunity for the student and her teacher Carol Spangler to talk directly with the Ambassador about Grains for Hope.
Spangler, who guides the students that run the organization, explained to Ambassador Matos that the organization hopes to make this project sustainable in Mozambique by organizing an exchange program, which allows students from Mozambique to come to the United States and vice versa. Once they return home, these students could teach their communities about producing fortified grain products like we do in Sabetha. Facilities could be built that would provide nutritious food to people in the villages.
Grains for Hope began as an alternative to the traditional problem solving activities required by the state in all Kansas high schools. Sabetha High School students were presented with a new grain-based product that could change the world for the better. Developing their own criteria and working together, they decided to begin their efforts in Mozambique.
After the first year, Grains for Hope established itself as a school-wide project that included extensive nutritional research, marketing principles, and product management. Through teamwork and cooperation with local business professionals, the organization developed its mission and put a plan of action into effect. The students developed product packaging, finalized product recipes and the first shipment of 1.5 tons was on its way to Maputo, Mozambique in 2006. Over the next five years, Grains for Hope successfully delivered several tons of fortified grain products to hungry women and children in Mozambique.
Since those early days, the student project has grown into a non-profit organization that not only works with local agri-businesses, but gets the community involved in a larger scale by hosting educational and fundraising events. Many of the students that started Grains for Hope have gone on to study agriculture and scientific research regarding malnutrition at the university level, building a future generation of agriculture professionals with a desire to help feed the world’s hungry.