FirstFruits Marketing has opened public voting for the youth-led projects which could become the next recipients of the Opal Youth Make a Difference Initiative. The public is encouraged to vote through April 29,2014 at opalapples.com/voting.
The Youth Make a Difference Initiative was started in 2013 as a way to provide grants to youth-led projects surrounding issues of food security and politics, nutrition and agriculture. Funding for the program comes from the grower who sets aside a portion of sales for each case of Opal apples sold. As the size of the crop grows the amount of funding for the grants will increase. In 2013 the amount grant amounts totaled $50,000; this year Opal Youth Make a Difference will provide $75,000 in grant funding.
“It is really wonderful to see all of the projects these kids are involved in, and how they are making a difference in their communities” says Keith Mathews, CEO of FirstFruits Marketing. “I am inspired by each of their stories; it is always difficult to make a final decision when you want to fund them all so we needed to put it to a vote!”
This year over 80 applications were received for the Opal Youth Make a Difference grants. Those applicants were narrowed down to a pool of 13 semi-finalists. The selected projects will now go through a month long public voting phase and have been encouraged to spread the word about the voting throughout their organizations. Winners will be announced to the public in June of 2014.
Projects being considered for the final grants include youth-led gardens and market stands, programs for special needs kids and Latino farmworker youth, an aquaponics farm and a program that combines healthy activities with healthy eating.
“Many children experience hunger, malnutrition or obesity, but very few understand where their food is sourced or how it is grown,” says Mathews. “With the Youth Make a Difference initiative, we hope to inspire the next generation to make a real difference in their communities on issues like hunger and healthy eating, the politics of food distribution, and the importance of community service.”