Sodexo Heroes Advocate on Capitol Hill for Hungry

August 9, 2015

Jessica Montoya, VP of Government Affairs, Sodexo

On June 16, Sodexo’s Heroes of Everyday Life took their message to Capitol Hill that people in our country are hungry, especially children.  For the past 16 years, Sodexo and the Sodexo Foundation have honored employees who fight hunger in their communities.  The Heroes come from all over the U.S. to Washington, DC and are joined by hundreds of Sodexo partners, suppliers, and clients for an inspiring dinner to raise funds for fight childhood hunger.  As part of the Heroes experience in Washington, D.C. they are also provided the opportunity to share their story with their elected officials in Washington, DC.  The special grassroots day is fittingly called Heroes on the Hill.

Courtesy: Sodexo USA

Tina Blake and Representative Charlie Dent (Courtesy: Sodexo USA)

“It’s so important that we not only volunteer our time and donate resources to fight hunger, but that we also be advocates and stand up for people who are less fortunate,” says Jessica Montoya, VP of Government Affairs at Sodexo.  Working with the Sodexo Foundation, Ms. Montoya organized and prepared the Heroes to engage and inform elected officials of the needs of their local communities.  “Especially this summer when many children don’t have access to school meals, our nation’s leaders should have this problem in their consciousness as they make important decisions on hunger and nutrition.”

Anyone can be an advocate against hunger—all that is required is to care and raise your voice.  One Sodexo Hero of Everyday Life, Ms. Tina Blake from Myerstown, PA, did just that.  Ms. Blake, manager of Sodexo services at Stone Ridge Retirement living community, has worked with a local organization called Opportunity House and IHartHarvest to prepare and deliver almost 10,000 meals over the past 10 years.  After she told her story to her U.S. Congressman, Charlie Dent (PA-15), he became inspired and shared his thoughts in the local newspaper, “Meeting people like Tina Blake always fills me with hope.  She has selflessly dedicated herself to fighting hunger in Berks County. Tina has great heart and determination, and I was very glad that I had a chance to thank her on behalf of the people of the 15th District and also congratulate her on being recognized as a Hero of Everyday Life by the Sodexo Foundation.” (Rippon Advance, June 22, 2015)  Ms. Blake had such an impact on her representative that he was compelled to share her story with the entire community; which, in turn, will inspire others to action as well.

Our nation’s leaders need to hear about hunger in our communities from a variety of people who care.  This fall, the Child Nutrition Reauthorization will expire and Congress will decide the policies on nutrition and hunger for our most vulnerable populations.  Advocates for children shouldn’t get discouraged to “lobby” for children because they may not know the details of the legislation, or be well-versed on politics.  What really matters is that this issue is in the consciousness of our nation’s leaders, that they know that everyday people like us care about our children’s nutrition and we expect them to use their power for positive change.  If enough of us take action like Ms. Blake, and engage our leaders to do the same, we are on our way to alleviating childhood hunger.

Jessica Montoya has been with Sodexo for five years as VP of Government Affairs and Assistant General Counsel.  She guides the company and its advocates on public policy and government affairs.  Jessica served a term as a member of the Board of Directors of the Sodexo Foundation from 2012 – 2013.