Our Youth Ambassadors gives kids, teens, and college students the opportunity to make a meaningful impact on hunger-relief efforts
Designed for both small and large groups alike, these interactive team-building and educational activities provide a hands‑on approach to understanding hunger and poverty.
Mobilizing the community is a critical part of our work. As part of our mission, we lead hunger and poverty advocacy efforts throughout Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties.
Become a trained Feeding South Florida HELPer! HELPers will learn about food insecurity and how to advocate for the solutions in place to end hunger.
Hunger Education Leadership Program (HELP)
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Sari Vatske is the Executive Vice President (EVP) of Feeding South Florida (FSF), the second largest food bank in the United States and the leading domestic hunger relief organization serving 25% of the state’s food insecure population throughout Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe Counties.
As EVP of FSF, Sari is responsible for strategy development and all external aspects of the organization including fundraising and programs. Ms. Vatske started her tenure with FSF as Director of Partner Services in 2011, was promoted to Vice President of Community Relations in 2014 and was promoted to Executive Vice President in January 2018.
During her tenure with FSF, Vatske was named a “Top Workplace Professional” by the Sun-Sentinel in 2016 and was named “40 Under 40” by the South Florida Business Journal in 2014. Vatske also sits on Feeding America’s Network Fundraising Services Advisory Council.
Prior to joining FSF in July 2011, Vatske served as the Florida Regional Manager for No Kid Hungry, a Washington, DC based organization working to end childhood hunger in the United States. Also prior to joining FSF, from 2006-2008, Vatske served as the District Press Secretary for a United States Congresswoman.
Vatske holds a Master of the Arts in International Relations from Florida Atlantic University and a Bachelor of Science in Political Science from Florida State University. Vatske has a certificate in High Performance Leadership from Cornell University and is a Six Sigma Green Belt as well as a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE).
As President & CEO of Feeding South Florida, Francisco (“Paco”) Vélez is responsible for the overall administration, management, and leadership of the organization in pursuit of its mission, goals, and objectives.
Since his arrival in 2012, Vélez has increased the number of pounds of food distributed across Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe Counties, from 29.6 million pounds in 2012 to 50 million pounds in 2018. He has increased funding and reduced expenses to ensure a healthy financial position for the organization, bringing it from seven figures in the red to seven figures in the black.
South Florida Business Journal named Vélez as Ultimate CEO of 2015, as well as a member
of the 40 Under 40 Class of 2013 for his accomplishments as CEO of Feeding South Florida.
Prior to joining Feeding South Florida in April 2012, Vélez served as executive vice president of programs and initiatives from 2010-2012 and director of services from 2000-2010 at the San Antonio Food Bank in San Antonio, Texas, one of the leading food banks in the Feeding America network. Vélez’s responsibilities at the San Antonio Food Bank included oversight of six divisions responsible for all outreach programs and initiatives of the food bank.
Also prior to joining Feeding South Florida, from 2010-2012, Vélez served as a consultant
to the Treasure Coast Food Bank for proposals, budgets, warehouse operations and program creation and innovation.
Vélez holds a Certification in Non-Profit Management from the University of Texas in San Antonio, Texas, and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Baylor University in Waco, Texas.
Vélez was recently appointed to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service’s Living Healthy in Florida Advisory Board by Commissioner Adam Putnam. He is also the past secretary for Feeding Florida and is currently on the board, while also serving on the board of the Emergency Food and Shelter Program with the United Way of Miami-Dade.
In Texas, he has served on the boards of the South Alamo Regional Alliance for the Homeless (SARAH) and Holy Spirit Catholic Church Homeless and Hunger Ministry. Vélez is also a Leadership San Antonio graduate of The Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce/San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
As part of Humana’s Bold Goal to increase healthy by 20 percent in 2020, Feeding South Florida partners with Humana in a variety of ways. Most notable is our innovative randomized control trial (RCT) looking at the impact food insecurity has on the number of healthy days as defined by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The RCT is a single-blind research study that involved training clinicians on how to screen for food insecurity and providing different interventions for the treatment groups and control groups.
Seeking to better quantify the impact our School Pantry Program has on children, Feeding South Florida has partnered with Aetna, the Miami-Dade County School District, and the Florida Institute for Health Innovation (FIHI) to assess the impact food has on children’s performance in the classroom, absences due to health-related issues and behavior in school. Aetna is generously supporting a School Pantry Program site, research efforts, and school district personnel. Our research concludes in the summer of 2019.