By 2050 there will be over 9 billion people on the planet, and food production will have to increase by as much as 70 percent to feed everyone. We are already struggling to feed everyone today, even in America. Nearly 12 percent of the world struggles with hunger, including 13 million kids and teens across the US. At the same time, soil and pollinator health are declining, and water risks are increasing.
General Mills saw the need to take an active role in addressing these ever-important challenges, but recognized that one company cannot solve it alone. This year, the company the launched a new program to build on its hunger relief efforts including 230 million meals-worth of food donations worldwide since 2010, and its sustainable agriculture efforts such as working with American farmers, addressing deforestation, water risks and pollinator habitat.
The General Mills Feeding Better Futures Scholars Program was designed to encourage young people ages 13 to 21 to submit their best ideas for addressing sustainable agriculture and alleviating hunger. After reviewing submissions from across North America, five finalists were selected for the chance to win the grand prize of $50,000, the opportunity for mentorship with industry leaders and the ability to share their idea at the Aspen Ideas Festival. The four runners-up will each receive a $10,000 prize and mentorship opportunities. The winner will be selected based on public votes, which are open until May 15, 2018.
- Produce Grown on Top of a Landfill: Joy Youwakim, a student at UT Austin, applied for a permit to grow food on top of a Texas landfill near the Austin airport. Once approved, she successfully grew various crops on a 400-square foot space on top of the closed landfill. The produce was tested by Food Safety Net Services and is safe for consumption, proving this is a model that could be duplicated across the U.S. in the future.
- FoodFinder: Jack Griffin, 19, created FoodFinder to address childhood hunger and close the information gap that exists between families looking for free food assistance and the programs providing that assistance. Today, FoodFinder's website and mobile app include 25,000 food programs with a presence in all 50 states, ensuring food insecure children and their families know exactly when and where they can receive free food assistance.
- Brae's Brown Bags: Braeden Mannering, 14, started Brae’s Brown Bags (3B) to provide hope and nourishment to homeless and low-income populations. Each bag is filled with healthy food, clean water and a note that tells the recipient he/she is cared about. His work has expanded to different student chapters in Delaware, and he hopes to further expand and educate youth about food insecurity. Through 3B, Braeden has delivered more than 11,000 brown bags.
- Katie’s Krops: Ten years ago, Katie Stagliano, now 19, started Katie's Krops with the mission to empower youth to grow and maintain vegetable gardens of all sizes and donate the harvest to help feed people in need. Today there are more than 80 Katie's Krops gardens growing across the country and in 2017 alone, Katie’s Krops donated 39,000 pounds of produce to food assistance programs.
Regenerative Agriculture: Kate Indreland, 19, set out to solve the problem of nutrient depletion in agricultural land in Big Timber, Montana. Her project to balance the soil resulted in increased nutritional density in plants by 30 percent. As the project expands, the nutrient density in the soil will continue to grow and benefit crops, livestock and ultimately human health. With such promising results on her own farm, Kate hopes to spread her ideas and techniques across her state and, eventually, the nation.