Early College students host food drive


Ethan Santana

The Early College at Guilford and STEM Early College have used various methods to publicize the event, such as the flyer.

Greensboro is currently ranked number 14 on The Food Action and Research Center’s list of food insecure areas, which has moved down from being the No. 1 food-insecure city in America in 2015.

“But we still have a lot of work to do,” said A Simple Gesture Executive Director Leslie Isakoff. “Greensboro is one of the hungriest cities in America, and over 50,000 kids are food insecure. Science shows that if a child experiences food insecurity for 6 months or more, they are more likely to drop out of school, have life-long chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer, more likely to be incarcerated and will earn about 50% less over their lifetime. But all of this is totally preventable.”

As the only non-profit whose sole focus is to collect food for local food pantries, A Simple Gesture dedicates their time to end hunger in the Greensboro community. Their main goal is to feed the hungry and take the steps to lift them out of poverty.

Additionally, A Simple Gesture is partnered with other organizations targeted at diminishing hunger, such as Urban Ministries and Backpack Beginnings.

“We do the collection so our partners can focus on getting food to children and families that need it the most,” said Isakoff. “We are a leader in creating a city-wide strategy to end hunger long-term.  We also have a goal to make giving as easy as possible.”

To make the process as simple as possible, A Simple Gesture’s uses what are known as the “Cool Green Bag” to collect their non-perishables in.

“Our primary role is letting people fill up a bag, leave it on their front porch on a designated day,” said Isakoff. “We pick up the food, leave a new bag, and deliver the food directly to local partners. It’s easy and makes a huge difference!”

In order to help out A Simple Gesture, Early College student Navya Belavadi teamed up with a friend from the STEM Early College at A&T and founded a Food Drive Competition to bring in food in a competitive spirit.

Last year, the drive raised over 3,200 pounds of food.

“The competition between Early College at Guilford and STEM Early College was a huge success last year!” said Isakoff. “They collected over 5,000 meals for local school kids.”

The basic premise of the Food Drive Competition is that whichever school brings in the most pounds of food, from Nov. 1 to Nov. 23, wins.

“I handed out green bags to all students, made announcements, and set up collection bins around the school,” said Belavadi. “Once people fill up their green bag with non-perishables, they drop it off in a bin and can take another bag. I’ve been considering pairing up with some Guilford students as well to possibly set up collection bins in Frank and King soon.”

Similarly to last year, Belavadi has tried to include everyone in the competition by collaborating with various charity events, such as the ECG’s school-wide, grade versus grade Turkey Bowl. The collaboration was started last year between ECG Active President Ashton McKenzie and Belavadi.

“Last year, I had to find a new association for us to partner with [for the Turkey Bowl], and I heard we were losing in the food drive competition against STEM,” said McKenzie. “So, I talked to Navya and we managed to get everything sorted out, and with the cans we got from the tournament, we won the competition!”

However, even though ECG won last year’s competition, the students are just as motivated this year to win as well.

“Last year, ECG won and we are just trying to make that happen again this year,” said Belavadi. “But the main point is that no matter who wins, all of it is going to a good cause, and will be feeding people all across Greensboro. I’m just really excited about being able to lead an initiative that has the capacity to do that.

“Looking across the sea of green bags last year was the greatest feeling, and I can’t wait to rally our school again and load our collection onto the truck on November 25.”

For the future, A Simple Gesture hopes to continue expanding its efforts into schools, backpack programs and every pediatrician’s office.

“This year, we are planning to continue supporting every school in Guilford County that wants a food pantry or backpack program,” said Isakoff. “No kid should ever be hungry!”

To help volunteer with A Simple Gesture, feel free to visit their website at https://www.asimplegesturegso.org/. Everyone is just a few clicks and a green bag away from helping end food insecurity in the community.


Editor’s note: This story originally was published in Volume 106, Issue 6 of The Guilfordian on Nov. 15 2019.