Spotlight on Lead2Feed

We asked Debby Dodge, grant manager for Lead2Feed/Lift a Life Foundation, a series of questions about the important part service learning and common vision play in developing caring, compassionate young adolescents.

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1. What is Lead2Feed’s vision and how does it support middle level education?

Lead2Feed’s vision is to develop the next generation of leaders who are passionate about solving hunger. The Lead2Feed program empowers middle school students to be leaders and work together as a team to creatively seek solutions for solving hunger insecurities in their communities.

The program is based on the leadership principles in the book Taking People with You, by David Novak, which teaches the importance of teamwork to accomplish big goals. Lead2Feed supports middle level education by providing educators and students with a no-cost, turnkey cross-curricular service-learning experience that is aligned to Common Core State Standards and 21st century skills.

2. Why is service-learning so important to the educational lives of young adolescents?

Through service to others, students improve their self-esteem, develop a sense of responsibility and sensitivity to the needs of others in their community, and evolve as leaders. The Lead2Feed program gives students the tools they need to be empowered to lead and inspired to serve. Lead2Feed is a transformative program that taps into that potential and allows students to become strong, service-minded leaders for life.

3. How have young adolescents helped their communities through Lead2Feed?

Young adolescents have helped their communities by leading the effort in multiple ways to solve hunger. For example, the World Hunger Leadership Challenge was created by the USA TODAY Charitable Foundation and the Lift a Life Foundation, with assistance from the Yum! Foundation, to encourage middle and high school students to hone leadership skills by completing a service-learning project that solves hunger issues. The 5 schools that won the challenge last year volunteered in local food banks; authored a children’s book on hunger; created a “mealbarrow” food collection program; delivered care packages to families in a small Mexican village; and mailed gardening packages to schools across the country. These schools, along with 7 second-place schools and 87 third-place schools, won a total of $247,000 that was donated to their nonprofit hunger organizations.

4. What can middle school teachers and leaders do to get involved with Lead2Feed?

To get involved in Lead2Feed and participate in the final World Hunger Leadership Challenge for donation prizes up to $25,000, middle school teachers can to do three things now: 1) Go to and register; 2) Complete the lessons with your students; and 3) Share your story. It’s that simple!

And we are excited to announce a new program this year: Leadership Awards. Up to $25,000 in technology products will be gifted to winning schools. All registered teachers receive a complimentary copy of the book Taking People With You and USA TODAY e-editions for their classrooms.

Most important, by signing up for Lead2Feed, teachers are providing their students with invaluable, real-world, hands-on leadership lessons that will inspire them to think critically, problem solve, communicate and collaborate in and outside the classroom.

5. If service-learning was a food for middle level education, what kind of food would it be and why?

Popcorn! All those kernels of knowledge waiting to POP! There are so many creative ways students can help solve real-world issues in their communities. Given the opportunity to develop service projects and bring them to life, they learn from their experiences and emerge as leaders—empowered, confident leaders.

Debby Dodge is grant manager for Lead2Feed/Lift a Life Foundation

Published in AMLE Magazine, January 2014