This math teacher came up with a pretty cool solution after learning his students weren’t focused because they were hungry—make them healthy, all-natural breakfast smoothies to kickstart their day.
George A. Caesar, an educator at Liberty City High in Miami, founded Smoothies 4 Students in 2018 after noticing many of his students were struggling to pay attention in class. The social entrepreneurial nonprofit provides nutritious smoothies to students who lack access to fresh foods in their neighborhoods.
The idea came about after a colleague suggested the students being “low on energy, grumpy, and making silly mistakes on their lessons,” could be due to hunger.
“I thought of myself when I’m hungry, I’m barely functioning, I’m not a nice person. I’m definitely not high performing the way I want to be,” Caesar told the Miami Herald.
The next day, Caesar surveyed his class of 30 to see how many had eaten breakfast. Only four raised their hands. With further investigation, he learned that when breakfast was eaten, it was often donuts, chips or McDonald’s–healthy options were not accessible in their neighborhoods.
Caesar, who made nutritional smoothies for himself every morning, decided to do the same for his students.
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“Mine have everything healthy in there, spinach, kale, walnuts, almonds, oatmeal,” he said. The founder has learned students like flavors like mango or pineapple.
Before the pandemic, Smoothies 4 Students was funded and distributed to students throughout Miami Northwestern with the help of affiliated organizations. When COVID-19 shutdown normal operation, Caesar began delivering to students directly.
“I was driving all over Miami, which was not very efficient, but we needed to continue to meet students where they were,” he recalled.
That delivery model has transformed into partnerships with summer camps and community organizations like Big Ideas, Girls of Transformation, Village Free(dge) and Mino Learning Collaborative. Together, the organizations can feed and educate more children at one time.
“We teach them about the different steps that they can take to eat healthy and then we also have smoothies for the students,” Caesar said.
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The next steps for Smoothies 4 Students is a Nutrition Change Agent program where students and their families regularly receive blenders and smoothie packs. Caesar also intends to track the impacts of the smoothies on students, and convert it’s all-volunteer team to include paid students and recent graduates.
The smoothies are currently made in a commercial kitchen or a converted school-bus turned-food truck.
“My dream is to have students essentially working most aspects of this organization, from food production to management to delivery, They’re this talented base of amazingly creative and hardworking young people who just haven’t been given an opportunity,” Caesar shared. “Imagine the power of having graduating seniors providing their little brothers and sisters and their friends with the healthy breakfasts and just what that means—the power of a community that takes care of itself. That’s what we’re trying to do.”