Flint & Genesee Education & Talent programs TeenQuest and Summer Youth Initiative (SYI) work with several community partners to help create a robust program. One of those partners is the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan.
“Our TeenQuest students often volunteer at the Food Bank during TeenQuest, and the organization is typically one of our SYI employers during the summer,” says James Avery, director of Talent Development for Flint & Genesee Education & Talent. “The work the organization does is so impactful on the community and our students can see that first hand working with the Food Bank.”
The Food Bank is the hub of food collection and distribution for more than 700 partner agencies in the area. The organization serves more than 380,000 people each year in 22 counties.
According to Keri Brack, volunteer coordinator for the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, the organization has been working with SYI for 18 years and most years employs up to 60 students during the summer.
“SYI is our favorite program we run through the Food Bank,” says Brack. “We started out with a very small number of students each year and were lucky to be able to grow.”
Hiring students during the summer is very important for the Food Bank since its volunteer pool typically slows down at that time.
“During the summer, we work with farmers and have an influx of donations from their harvest that we need to get out into the community,” says Brack. “Hiring SYI students helps supplement the volunteer base dropping off at that time.”
One thing that sticks out to Brack is how prepared students are when they are hired in the summer.
“I give a lot of credit to the TeenQuest facilitators,” says Brack. “They’re doing a great job preparing students for actual adult work.”
Brack believes that the work that TeenQuest and SYI do is important to the community because the teens who are taught through these programs are our future.
“If we don’t put time and effort into youth now, where are we going to be in 5 or 10 years?” says Brack. “It is our responsibility to teach students a strong work ethic, the power of volunteerism and how to be a good neighbor.”
For more information on the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, visit FBEM.org.
TeenQuest and Summer Youth Initiative are made possible through the generous support of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.