For most students, the start of summer means freedom from classes, homework and responsibilities, but for others, summer vacation can mean more than just the end of the school year—it means the end of access to free or reduced-price meals.
In South Florida alone, summer hunger affects 555,302 children.
Inspired by the annual Congressional Art Competition that engages student artists and recognizes them for their talents, the nonprofit Feeding South Florida invited local high school students to participate in its inaugural “Summer Hunger Ends Here” art competition, presented by Delta Airlines.
“Our goal was to engage young adults and their families to raise awareness about the issue of summer hunger since it impacts so many of their peers,” Sari Vatske, Feeding South Florida’s executive vice president, explains.
Given the prompt, “What does summer hunger look like?,” the students were encouraged to create pieces in any medium, from graphic design to acrylic painting, to call attention to the issue.
Twenty-seven student-artists from throughout Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties submitted pieces, but it was junior Louidjy Hippolite who was awarded first place for his pencil and charcoal piece titled, “Food for Change.”
“I drew this picture because it can inspire other people to share food,” says Hippolite, a student at Santaluces Community High School. “I want to share the happiness and love you see when a child smiles after eating.”
The organization partnered with other nonprofits in the area, including ArtServe, The Frank Gallery and Young at Art Museum, to select the piece that “not only depicted summer hunger best, but also displayed originality, talent and a sense of community,” says Vatske.
Hippolite was announced the winner during Feeding South Florida’s Gallery Night on May 3.
For the special event, the nonprofit transformed its 72,000-square-foot warehouse in Pembroke Park into a large art gallery to showcase the artwork submitted by students.
“As we continue to shed light on summer hunger, we are excited to launch this initiative that also recognizes the talents of our community’s high school students,” says Vatske. “To raise awareness about the issue, and showcase the winning piece of art, Feeding South Florida will wrap a 36-foot tractor-trailer that travels throughout our quad-county service area.”
Hippolite’s work will also be displayed in the nonprofit’s main warehouse until Aug. 31.
Melissa Fernandez, a senior from New World School of the Arts, placed second for her piece, “Delivering Love and Generosity,” and sophomore Maria Guerriere-Maril from Boca Prep International High School came in third place for her artwork, “Splash of Hope on the Sunshine State.”
To find out more information about Feeding South Florida, and the “Summer Hunger Ends Here” competition, visit feedingsouthflorida.org.
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