Understanding the ‘Why': Lessons from the Next Generation

Interview by Billy Shore

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

How will next-generation leaders define their roles as social change makers? “We’ve got to get young people saying, ‘I want to be accountable for making change,’” says host Billy Shore during this special episode of Add Passion and Stir made possible by generous support from the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation. His two young guests are already making impact in their communities. Twenty-three-year-old Luz Holmes works in the mayor’s office in Hartford, CT, and learned the importance of giving back at young age despite being food insecure. “[My mother] taught me that you give when you can give. Be accountable for other people… and to make the best out of life because someone else has it way worse than us,” she relates. She served as a Share Our Strength Youth Ambassador in college as a way to address hunger in her community. Alex McCoy is chef/owner of Lucky Buns in Washington DC at the age of 31. “We should always be questioning what the status quo is, what we’re doing, and if we’re doing it the right way,” he says of his leadership style. McCoy points to important factors that are creating generational differences and opportunities for new leaders. “Our generation has more information at its disposal than there ever has been. And the world is a much smaller place than it ever has been,” he believes. He notes that the recent student reaction to the Parkland, FL school shooting is a prime example. “Previously those kids wouldn’t have had a platform to change hearts and minds,” he says.

Though only at the beginning of her career, Holmes possesses an intentional and purpose-driven attitude toward life. She frequently asks herself, “How could I better my journey? What can I do to help this one person or what can I do to impact this one situation?” Her work for the city of Hartford includes food and nutrition outreach to underserved communities. Slated to return to school in the fall to earn her master’s degree, she sees herself moving up to the state or federal level in order to have greater impact. McCoy stays motivated by going on learning journeys around the world. He relates a story about his first bite of a favorite Thai dish on his first day in Thailand. “I realized everything I know about Thai green curry is wrong…the texture, the flavor…it was a dish I thought I knew,” he recalls. This revelation would have a profound effect on his approach to food as a chef and restaurant owner. “The cooking is cooking – that’s technical. The why is the everything – It’s the emotion, it’s the heart, the soul, it’s the tradition. You need to know that so that you can fully understand the flavors the right way,” he says

Share in this conversation and understand the motivations driving two aspiring young leaders who are becoming forceful advocates for change.

Resources and Mentions:

Alex McCoy

Considered a rising star on the DC restaurant scene. He is the chef and owner of Lucky Buns and Duke’s Grocery in Washington DC as well as the pop-up Alfies. He brings a combination of culinary chops, passion for travel, business skill and charm to his restaurants. He is a self-taught chef who started working in restaurants as a teenager, became an executive chef in his 20s, and opened his own restaurant before turning 30.

Luz Holmes

Luz Holmes works in the Hartford, CT, Mayor’s office. Holmes is a first-generation college graduate from the University of Saint Joseph, where she earned her Bachelorettes degree in Public Health and a minor in Child Studies. Previously, she worked as a neighborhood outreach worker for the City of Hartford Health and Human Services in the Maternal and Infant Outreach Programs (MIOP). She is the founder of the first Mentoring Club for girls at USJ, which is now the first college chapter of the non-profit organization, Brave Girls Leadership Inc. Holmes has had the privilege of organizing and initiating the first Community Outreach Day at the City of Hartford Health and Human Services as well as taking on the role of youth director of her church. She is active in local organizations and agencies such as the Finding Peace Campaign and Act Up Theater. In the fall of 2018, she will begin work on her master’s degree.

No Kid Hungry

Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign is ending child hunger in America by ensuring all children get the healthy food they need, every day.

Root Cause Coalition

The Root Cause Coalition is a national, member-driven, nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing the root causes of health disparities by focusing on hunger and other social determinants leading to nationwide epidemic of preventable chronic health conditions.

Lucky Buns

Is inspired by the tasty burger creations of SE Asia, Australia, the UK, and beyond. All of their burgers are hand-formed Creekstone Beef, seasoned to order, and cooked to perfection. All of their pickles, sauces and spreads are made in house, in small batches. The produce is locally sourced whenever in season, and the bread is fresh-baked daily by Lyon Bakery in Washington DC. Their burgers have been featured in the Washington Post, Thrillist, & Eater DC.

Share Our Strength Youth Ambassador Program

Through the support of Sodexo Foundation, Share Our Strength has created a program to involve college-aged youth ambassadors in the fight against childhood hunger by working with one of our state No Kid Hungry partners. Youth ambassadors work on collaborative projects along with the state partner organization and fellow youth ambassador(s). These projects help increase the number of children getting access to healthy meals in the community and other tasks that help the state partners work towards their goal to help ens childhood hunger.

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