Family Center Rises from Ashes to Nourish L.A.'s Youth with Support from Community and Sodexo's Feeding Our Future® Program
August 10, 2011
Thirty one years after suffering an arson attack, Mar Vista Family Center remains determined to feed and educate children in one of the city's toughest neighborhoods with a unique approach – Shared Responsibility
LOS ANGELES, August 10, 2011 – Mar Vista Family Center, a pre-school for low-income families, continues to fulfill hopes and dreams of families each and every year through its philosophy of shared responsibility. This year is no exception, with the summer 2011 collaboration between Mar Vista Family Center and Sodexo resulting in serving 12,000 free summer lunches to Los Angeles-area school-aged children.
"Our shared responsibility model is simply this," said Lucia Diaz, Chief Executive Officer, Mar Vista Family Center. "It's using increased community involvement and personal responsibility to ensure the operation and success of the center. Everyone in the community is key to that succcess and we all have a stake in it."
Mar Vista Family Center was founded in 1977. Three weeks after operating out of a public school bungalow in 1980, the building was burned down. Organizers came to the realization that a rebuilt preschool would depend on the empowerment of community leaders and parents to play a larger role. It was through this challenge that Mar Vista's founders developed a model of increased community involvement and shared personal responsibility.
Increased involvement and shared responsibility include volunteer contributions of time by parents in lieu of tuition for their kids, but it is much more than that. It also includes creating a connection with local officials, police officers and service agencies to address the needs of the community overall. During the summer months for example, programs like Sodexo’s Feeding Our Future® support Mar Vista's efforts to ensure that the children of the community who typically rely on free or reduced-price schools meals throughout the academic year have access to nutritious meals during the summer break.
"Feeding Our Future has had a presence in the Los Angeles area since 1999 and it has served nearly 154,000 meals to children in that time," said Robert A. Stern, president of the Sodexo Foundation, which funds the program. "It is especially rewarding to participate in a way which ensures that children have nutritious meals at programs like those run by the Mar Vista Family Center."
Thanks to Mar Vista's participation, contributions by the West Side Food Bank and volunteers from the Sodexo team at Loyola Marymount University, Feeding Our Future will provide 400,000 summer lunches in 24 cities this summer. This summer alone 12,000 meals will benefit Los Angeles children at-risk of hunger through Feeding Our Future. Beyond that, Mar Vista is also nurturing young minds for academic success and empowering parents with the skills they need for personal growth.
Since its inception in 1992, Mar Vista’s By Youth for Youth program has offered counseling and college preparation work to over 600 middle and high school students, who, without assistance, are often in danger of failing to graduate. Eighty one percent of By Youth for Youth graduates enroll in post-secondary institutions and 75 percent graduate in four years. Ninety five percent of those graduates, who had been enrolled with Mar Vista since preschool, graduate high school and go on to college.
"Personal or shared responsibility doesn't have to be a burden. It can be so rewarding to play just a small part in the future development of our communities and our youth," said Sodexo Chef Dana Massimiani, a Feeding Our Future volunteer.
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Sodexo, Inc. (www.sodexoUSA.com), leading Quality of Daily Life Solutions company in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, delivers On Site Service Solutions in Corporate, Education, Health Care, Government, and Remote Site segments, as well as Motivation Solutions such as Esteem Pass. Sodexo, Inc., headquartered in Gaithersburg, Md., funds all administrative costs for the Sodexo Foundation (www.SodexoFoundation.org), an independent charitable organization that, since its founding in 1999, has made more than $15 million in grants to fight hunger in America. Visit the corporate blog at www.sodexoUSA.com/blog.
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Quality of Life plays an important role in the progress of individuals and the performance of organizations. Based on this conviction, Sodexo is the strategic partner for companies and institutions that place a premium on performance and well-being, as it has since Pierre Bellon founded the company in 1966. Sharing the same passion for service, Sodexo's 380,000 employees, in 80 countries design, manage and deliver an unrivaled range of On-site Service Solutions and Motivation Solutions. Sodexo has created a new form of service business that contributes to the economic, social and environmental development of the communities, regions and countries in which it operates and to the fulfillment of its employees.
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