“Is my name on the list?” says a skinny little boy.  “What’s your name sweetie?” she replies.  She calls all the kids sweetie.  After looking over her list twice she confirms his name isn’t there.  “We really need the food,” he pleads.  Without hesitation she tells him to wait while she hurries to the car for the extra bag of food she packed away just in case.

This boy is one of 300 hungry kids Minda feeds weekly through her non-profit organization For the Kids.  Based in Salt Lake City, UT, For the Kids provides meals over the weekend and through the summers to elementary kids who depend on the federal free lunch program for food.

Thanksgiving is a particularly busy holiday for Minda.  This year she organized an initiative to provide Thanksgiving dinners to just over 400 families in need.

Her heart is a well of empathy; her drive to help comes from her own experience with hunger as a young girl.  She recalls how her family suffered from extreme poverty from the time she was five, and how motivated she is to help kids like her create a different life for themselves.

“I was just like these kids.  We moved a lot, lived in a motel for awhile, stayed with relatives, and when times were desperate we slept in the back of a truck until we could figure something else out… I always wanted to get out of it, and if I did I was committed to pay it back.

But it is hard to break the cycle of poverty.  It is hard to not let it consume you, to define you.

The majority of kids I went to school with were actually pretty wealthy.  This made it all the more embarrassing.  I remember in high school they would give out red tickets if you got a free lunch, or orange tickets if you had to pay.  I’d rush to the front of the line so no one would see my red ticket.  At this time, we lived in a low-income apartment complex right across the street from the seven eleven—the unofficial high school hang out.  I remember wearing big hats to hide my face while I’d mow the lawn as fast as I could so no one would see me.  It was so humiliating.  All those embarrassing experiences made me determined to live my life differently.

The only time there was food in my home was at the beginning of the month when we got food stamps.  We’d hurry to the store and use up all the money and by the end of the month had nothing.  No one taught us how to ration our food.

I moved in with a family for my senior year in high school and got to see what it was like to live in a home with food.  It was life changing really.  Crazy how something so basic as food can really be the difference between surviving and thriving.

Kids shouldn’t have to worry about when and where they will get their next meal.  In Salt Lake 1 in 5 children suffer from food insecurity.  Kids can’t learn when they are hungry.  And if they can’t learn then they will be consumed by their poverty.

Our mission at For the Kids is so much more than just feeding kids though.  We mentor them, give them opportunities to play sports, strive to feed the whole child.  We show them that while they can’t choose the circumstances they are born into, they can choose what they will become…

‘Make a difference.  Not just a living.’  This is what I live by.”

Minda is a devoted wife and mother to two beautiful children.  She loves being with her family, helping others, and traveling the world.  Minda is wearing the Nadene, a dress that symbolizes hope and is dedicated to the issue of hunger.

Learn more about For the Kids here. 100% of donations go directly to purchasing food for children in need.

For the Kids serves many refugee and immigrant families.

 

This is the very first trunk load of Thanksgiving dinners Minda donated to families in need. Now she donates over 400 dinners.

 

Minda alway looks for ways she can help others.  While working as the General Manager for the HyattPlace Salt Lake City Downtown, Minda collaborated with the refugee association to provide refugees and immigrants with employment.

 

Feeding the hungry is Minda’s passion.