This summer, Hunger Intervention Program partnered with Teens In Public Service (TIPS) to host three high school interns. These smart, passionate young women helped to design and lead activities that took place across meal sites during the 10-week long Summer Eats program. Two of our interns, Saeran and Ava, were able to share their experience with their TIPS cohort at an end-of-summer celebration, and graciously allowed us to share their speeches with the HIP community.
My main role during my internship at Hunger Intervention Program was to assist with Summer Eats, a program that provides a stable source of food for kids who rely on free lunch during the school year. The communities we serve especially include immigrants, people of color, and victims of abuse.
Having the opportunity to provide children with something as essential as a meal every day, becoming a part of their daily routine, and them becoming a part of mine was very meaningful and has given me some memories I will never forget. My time at HIP significantly broadened my perspective of North Seattle in that it brought me closer to communities that I otherwise may not have had the opportunity to get to know. It humanized groups of people that we as a society so often push to the fringes and simply speak of as a statistic.
On a daily basis, I formed bonds and friendships with some of the 34% of students in King County who were eligible for free or reduced school lunch, and some of the 97% of immigrant students who qualify. In my interactions with these kids, I met the most creative, intelligent, vibrant, and kind individuals I’ve ever encountered, almost all of whom were under the age of 7.
This experience has given me a newfound, deep respect for the work that nonprofits do to serve and advocate for communities that are too often marginalized. I have learned that the strongest indicator of a society’s collective compassion is the way in which we treat our children. Because of this experience, I will continue to deepen these lessons of compassion and put them into practice as best I can in whatever I do in the future.
This experience would not have been possible without Gillian, Camille, and Guita from TIPS, who provided the resources that enabled all of us to connect with our organizations, or without the passionate and hardworking staff at HIP, especially my supervisor (and TIPS alumn) Ryan Phi.
Saeran is in the graduating class of 2024 at Ingraham High School. She has been studying Japanese since kindergarten and aspires to earn a college degree in Japanese Language and Literature. She is passionate about serving youth in the local and global community and securing food access to students in the Seattle area. You can often find her playing volleyball, eating grilled cheese, or playing with her goldendoodle Hailey.
When I started my summer at Hunger Intervention Program I knew I’d be learning a lot. From figuring out where all the different fridges are to learning how to format two Canva designs onto one piece of paper, I had my work cut out for me. What I did not know though, was that I would be learning many of the very largest lessons of my summer from the very smallest of people.
A main responsibility I had as a Hunger Intervention Program intern was to organize and plan activities to be done at the free summer meal sites that Hunger Intervention Program runs all over North Seattle. These meal sites are a piece in one of many programs that Hunger Intervention Program runs to increase food security and bring nutritious and consistent meals to underserved communities in North King County.
One of my most cherished memories from the summer is from a week that we were making tissue paper flowers with the kids. I showed up to the Shoreline Library site with an overflowing box of tissue paper, pipe cleaners, and scissors, ready to teach the kids how to make their own paper flower garden. A few minutes in, I met a girl named Nora. Nora was only 4 years old, so it took her a lot of time and a little bit of help from her older sister to complete her first flower. When she finished she took a big sniff of her paper flower and told me it smelled like roses and sparkles. When it was time for her to leave she handed me her flower and said “I want to leave it here with you so everyone can share its beauty” and then walked out. I put up Nora’s flower with the example flowers I had made earlier in the week, and in just a few minutes more kids wanted to add on. By the end of the day I had a full garden of paper flowers that the kids had worked hard on, made with their favorite colors, even named, and then left so that they could contribute to Nora’s garden.
That day just one 4 year old girl was able to change the mindset of a whole room of kids, and inspire everyone
around her to choose to be selfless. Even though she was still learning how to use scissors, she made a big difference, and inspired me in a way I’ll never forget.
Ava is a rising senior at Lincoln High school and has grown up her whole life in North Seattle. Ava is passionate about all things food, and in her free time, she likes to go on hikes with her two brothers, swim in Lake Washington, and go thrifting.