Isabel’s Seeds of Hope is a youth-led non-profit organization that is working to fighting food insecurity by rebuilding the agricultural industry around the world and empowering youth around the globe to make a difference. Learn more in our interview with the organization’s president and founder, Isabel.
Why did you start the non-profit, Isabel’s Seeds of Hope?
When I was seven years old, I met a homeless man on the street after a nice meal in Boston with my family. Having never been exposed to this before, I knelt down to give him my leftovers and immediately asked my parents how I can help more people like him.
We went to the food pantry the following weekend, where I was turned away for being “too young” to help. Not letting that stop me, I went home and decorated placemats with positive messages for everyone being served at the soup kitchen. From there, this new hobby spiraled into a passion and eventually my purpose.
By middle school, I was spearheading my own food drives. I’d go to the soup kitchen after school, knock on my neighbors doors to ask if they had spare cans, and advocate to anyone who’d listen.
By fourteen, I created Seeds of Hope, a project where I sent vegetable seeds to schools, orphanages, and churches overseas so they could grow their own healthy food. Now, Seeds of Hope is an international 501(c)3 non-profit organization that has provided over 35,000 meals to families in all 50 states and 8 different countries, and we have grown from just one to 250 youth volunteers.
What is Isabel’s Seeds of Hope’s mission?
Seeds of Hope is a teen-led, internationally-serving non-profit organization working to end world hunger by rebuilding the agricultural industry and empowering youth around the globe to make a difference.
Our main focus is to put an end to food insecurity by increasing accessibility to healthy food via local, national, and global initiatives. However, inspired by the moment I was turned away from the soup kitchen and told I was too young to help, I also advocate for the motto of Seeds of Hope, “From the smallest of seeds grow the mightiest of trees” because I believe that all people have the power to change the world – regardless of age or background.
Can you tell us about Isabel’s Seeds of Hope’s different programs: New England, United States, and worldwide?
Seeds of Hope works locally in the New England area to keep food pantries and soup kitchens stocked and ensure state aid programs have the resources needed to run effectively. To date, we have organized nearly 40 successful food drives and raised over twenty thousand dollars to benefit locally serving organizations such as the New Hampshire Food Bank, Gather Food Pantry, New Horizons Shelter, and many more. We also advocate directly to New Hampshire legislators to keep the issue of food insecurity at the forefront of legislative concerns and fight for food justice for all Granite Staters.
Seeds of Hope has established numerous nationwide campaigns to ease food insecurity and encourage youth to find their power. Among these efforts are Win-Win, a food recycling program allowing restaurants to donate their leftover or unused food, protected from any liability under the federal Bill Emerson Food Donation Act.
Another initiative includes our new national project with Girl Scouts of America, where Seeds of Hope is providing Girl Scout troops in all 50 states with the tools for a Planting Party, teaching girls both the importance of healthy, sustainable food as well as how to unleash their power and share that strength with those in need. We routinely work alongside national organizations such as Feeding America, End 68 Hours of Hunger, and No Kid Hungry to touch families across the country.
Seeds of Hope works to end global hunger and reconstruct the agricultural industry by sending vegetable seeds to schools, orphanages, and churches overseas as a reliable source of nutrients. The seeds not only provide recipients with healthy food, but they are used as a learning tool to help youth learn entrepreneurial skills and earn a profit, in turn feeding even more people while also equipping younger generations with the skills needed to sustain both income and nutrition. Ideally, Seeds of Hope is preventing food insecurity in years to come. To date, we have delivered eight Seeds of Hope shipments to five different countries and territories, and we are only getting started!
As founder, can you describe how you balance your time?
Because Seeds of Hope has been such a huge part of my life for so long, the busy schedule is really all I’ve ever known! The job of president is a lot of work but I am lucky to have so much support through my board of directors as well as our wide team of volunteers. I have such a deep appreciation for what I do that I couldn’t imagine it any other way!
What is your best advice to other students who want to make an impact?
It’s okay to start small. You don’t need a non-profit corporation to make a difference, it can start as simply as holding the door for someone. Keep true to yourself, your strengths, and your passions.
What does the future hold for Isabel’s Seeds of Hope and for the Isabel’s Seeds of Hope team?
I have some exciting upcoming projects that I am working on, but a long term goal for me would be to continue to grow our volunteer base. I feel like there is such a ripple effect in service that the most efficient way for us to further our mission is to continue to reach more people.