Black households are nearly three as likely to struggle with hunger as white ones. Last year, more than 20% of Black people across various generations faced food insecurity – more than double that of white households.
The Kroger Foundation and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund have partnered to empower young generations to tackle the issue. The organizations hosted The Innovation Challenge, a pitch competition that offered winners scholarship awards for their ideas in mitigating food insecurity and food waste. The three-day in-person business event encouraged HBCUs to think outside the box to solve the issues.
“The Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Innovation Challenge creates an environment for students to think strategically about a seemingly intractable challenge – the intersection of hunger and food waste – and apply their ingenuity to help solve it,” said Keith Dailey, Kroger’s group vice president of corporate affairs and president of The Kroger Co. Foundation in a news release. “We are so proud to work with Thurgood Marshall College Fund and these talented student innovators to find new ways to eliminate hunger and waste in our communities.”
30 students and six teams hailing from 11 HBCUs participated, with most focusing on utilizing AI to eradicate food insecurity. Overall, $45,750 in scholarships was awarded.
“I can’t say enough about our talented students who competed during Kroger’s Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Innovation Challenge program,” said Dr. Harry Williams, President & CEO of Thurgood Marshall College Fund. “Our students are exposed to the technologies that combat food insecurity in a challenging setting where they have an opportunity to make societal contributions toward a solution that will benefit others. We’re always proud to partner with Kroger and appreciate their intentional investment in our students.”