CEO Doug Pick spent the morning with Lower, Middle, and Upper School students as a part of the Bryan Innovation Lab Visiting Innovator program.
Over the past several years, the Steward community has given 4,500 pounds of produce from the Bryan Innovation Lab’s Ipsen Gardens to Feed More, Central Virginia’s core hunger relief organization. But, the school’s relationship with Feed More doesn’t end there. On February 12, CEO Doug Pick spent the morning with Lower, Middle, and Upper School students as a part of the Bryan Innovation Lab Visiting Innovator program.
Lower School students sat with rapt attention on the floor of the Lower School library as Mr. Pick talked about food insecurity and explored concept of empathy.
“One of the best questions I got was from a young lady who said ‘Do you ever go live or stay with these folks in order to understand them?’” Mr. Pick said. “And, what a brilliant question that was from a young person who already understands that empathy really matters in this world. If you want to help people, how can you really do it without truly understanding them? My guess is that a lot of what students learn [at Steward] is beyond studies and grades; it’s how do you become a good citizen of the world, a good friend, and someone who makes a difference?”
Mr. Pick also shared statistics in a manner that the students embraced, such as how Feed More provided its 207,000 clients with 29 million pounds of food last year, which is the weight of 2,100 elephants! He told the students that although Feed More has a refrigerator full of food that is eight times the size of the Lower School library, Feed More is only able to meet about two-thirds of its clients’ needs.
“How do we show the invisibility of hunger in this country?” Mr. Pick asked the students. “We do it through education, we do it through trying to talk to the wonderful, brilliant kids who are here.”
Cary Jamieson, director of the Bryan Innovation Lab, said: “The world’s problems can be very overwhelming, But we’re trying to teach the kids that the world’s problems are actually opportunities for them to solve. I love the way that food engages children through planting and tasting, but also how it creates big-picture thinking about how we are connected in our own community, as well as nationally and globally.”
Mr. Pick also spent time with Middle and Upper School students and took the conversation to a higher level. He shared statistics about food insecurity in our community, explaining that although the Westover Hills neighborhood is only about three miles from Gilpin Court, the life expectancy in those neighborhoods differs by 15 years. He showed a map of the greater Richmond area, which brought to life the differences in food access between the West End near Steward and other parts of the city.
“I think they got a good sense of the need that’s in our very own community and that they too can make a difference,” he said. “If we all do a little bit, it all adds up.”
Just as the students are thinking about and preparing for the future, he said, Feed More is doing the same.
Mr. Pick talked about how technology and weather patterns will influence the organization’s ability to serve its clients, and how his staff is constantly thinking about how to innovate to manage those changes. He shared some ideas being considered at Feed More, and he encouraged Middle and Upper School students to help him think creatively about solutions.
When asked what she learned from Mr. Pick’s visit, senior Kyndall Diamond said: “I learned that if you have an idea you should go for it. This one man had an idea to help change Richmond and other outside cities and counties, [which made me realize that] if you want to actually help the world and help people, just go for it.”
The morning set the stage for a spring full of programming about food innovation, Ms. Jamieson said.
“Mr. Pick was our ‘seed,’ our inspiration today,” Ms. Jamieson said. “Now that our faculty and students have spent this wonderful time with Mr. Pick, this spring several faculty members and students will work with Feed More staff on developing solutions to real-world problems. Our students will use their creativity and problem-solving skills to effect real positive change.”
Mr. Pick added: “Feed More is very excited about partnering with Ms. Jamieson and the students in the Bryan Innovation Lab. Through design thinking, they can help us help the community. You’re never too young to help out; you’re never too young to start being part of the fabric of the community.”