Sodexo Foundation Recognizes Columbia, S.C. Marketing Manager as a Hero of Everyday Life®

June 14, 2012

Cynthia L. Steele to be honored in Washington, D.C. for fighting hunger and homelessness in Columbia, S.C.

Sodexo Foundation Recognizes Columbia, S.C. Marketing Manager as a Hero of Everyday Life®

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 14, 2012 – Most hungry children in the U.S. suffer quietly, and are unnoticed until a teacher or a doctor recognizes their “failure to thrive.” Hungry children are everywhere, in every single corner of America—including Columbia, S.C.  The first and most critical step to solving this problem is learning to see it. Area resident Cynthia Steele not only sees how hunger affects a growing population, she voluntarily works to eliminate it. Tonight, the Sodexo marketing manager at University of South Carolina will be recognized as a Hero of Everyday Life® at the 13th Annual Sodexo Foundation Dinner in Washington, D.C. As part of that recognition, Steele will receive a $5,000 grant, presented in her name to the hunger-relief charity of her choice, the University of South Carolina Educational Foundation to support the on-campus food bank.

Steele’s other impressive achievements while at Sodexo include: advocating for a food bank on the University of South Carolina campus, piloting it this spring and engaging the student body in a major food drive to fill that food bank. She was also instrumental in collecting food and raising $15,000 in funds for Harvest Hope Food Bank of Columbia, which serves 20 counties in South Carolina. In addition, Cynthia assists with efforts for the Second Servings program, which rescues surplus food, and provides nearly 32,000 meals to local residents in need at seven different shelters for the homeless. Steele has also been recognized for her work by the United Way with an award for her community service.

“Cynthia’s dedication to fighting hunger in the community is more than commendable, it’s a model for us all,” said Robert A. Stern, Chair, Sodexo Foundation. “That one in five children can go to bed hungry or spend weekends unsure about the next meal is unthinkable to Cynthia. It should be for all of us. We all have to roll up our sleeves and take hunger personally.”

As someone who lives the mantra, “One can do some, many can do more,” Cynthia Steele is widely recognized as the crisis go-to person in matters of hunger and homelessness in her community. She began her volunteer work five years ago collecting and delivering food and supplies every month to the Homeless Shelter of Columbia. Not one to let budget challenges impede service, Steele rallied resources and personal friends to ensure that 250 homeless men and women had food each week even through funding shortfalls – an effort that resulted in 18,500 meals served over the last three years. 

Motivated volunteers often hear Cynthia Steele say, “Because of our efforts, many more South Carolina families will have the comfort of knowing that there WILL be a next meal.”

There are more than 16 million children living in America in homes where meals are uncertain. That’s one in five American kids at risk of hunger every day. Tragically, while 22 million kids in the U.S. are eligible for free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program, only 3 million of them are aware of or have access to existing free meal programs during weekends and school breaks. The volunteer efforts by Heroes of Everyday Life, like Steele, help to bridge that gap.

Sodexo Foundation recognizes Sodexo employees who invest their time, talent, and service spirit in helping those at-risk of hunger in the United States. Nominated by a colleague, friend or employer, selected Heroes are honored at the annual Sodexo Foundation Dinner and receive a $5,000 grant for their hunger-related charity of choice.

Cynthia L. Steele is one of five Heroes of Everyday Life recognized in 2012 by Sodexo Foundation. Others include: Lana M. Kruse of Lake St. Louis, Mo., Diana L. Messett of Mt. Airy, Md., Karen A. Peloquin of Douglas, Mass. and Phyll Dondis Ribakoff of Weston, Mass.

Sodexo Inc. and Sodexo Foundation work to help end hunger in the United States. Sodexo Foundation is an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit with the mission to end childhood hunger. The foundation works to ensure that every child in the United States, especially those most at-risk, grows up with dependable access to enough nutritious food to enable them to lead a healthy, productive life. Sodexo Foundation cultivates and maintains strategic partnerships with regional and national hunger relief entities and youth mobilization organizations—all part of Sodexo’s STOP Hunger Initiative, its global program to end hunger and malnutrition in the communities where it operates. Sodexo is headquartered in Gaithersburg, Md. and funds all administrative costs for Sodexo Foundation, which since 1999 has made more than $17 million in grants to end childhood hunger. Visit for more information.


Sodexo’s STOP Hunger Programs



Impact to Date (as of June 2012)


Sodexo Foundation ………………………………………….

Stephen J. Brady STOP Hunger Scholarship …………….

Heroes of Everyday Life® …………………………………..

Feeding Our Future® ………………………………………..

Sodexo Servathon …………………………………………...

Backpack Food Program ……………………………………



Distributed more than $17 million in grants

Gave $353,000 in scholarships & matching grants

Awarded $478,000 to employees’ hunger charities

Funded more than 2.9 million summer meals

Mobilized 125,000 employees to fight hunger

Funded 70 programs; providing 2 million meals




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