Ever since she was a little girl, high school senior Sydney Marchando has been passionate about food insecurity and hunger.

Even back as a sixth grader, she began thinking ahead to her future Girl Scout Gold Project, planning to do something along that line to create her own solution to the problem. “Growing up, a lot of students in my school were on a free or reduced lunch meal plan,” Sydney said. “Since fourth grade, I have been around food insecurity, and it is something I became passionate about.” Last October, Sydney planned and hosted a benefit 5k race at her high school, Rock Canyon High School in Highlands Ranch, after 120 hours over months of planning. The Miles for Meals Fun Run accepted food, personal care items, and clothing donations as entry "fees" to participate, then gave those items to the Fresh Harvest Food Bank. [caption id="attachment_14975" align="aligncenter" width="300"]hunger Photo courtesy of the Englewood Herald[/caption] "Food insecurity is an issue that affects people all over the United States and throughout the world," Sydney said. "An estimated 49 million people in the United States alone have some level of food insecurity, and somewhere between 500 and 800 million people worldwide face a similar problem." Through her project, however, Sydney was able to make a dent in those numbers, collecting 1,700 donations to assist families in need. The Fun Run also drew more than 100 participants.
As a result of her efforts, Sydney earned the Gold Award, which is the highest achievement the Girl Scouts program offers. Only 28 received the award in Colorado this year. "Spearheading this project on my own taught me valuable lessons as a leader that will only continue to grow," Sydney said of the valuable growth she gained through the experience. "After completing this project, I have seen the impact that an individual can have, and I have learned the impact that my leadership can have on others and things that are important to me."

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