November 26, 2020 - Daytona Beach News-Journal | USA TODAY NETWORK
ABOUT THIS SERIES: Founded in 2007, Food Brings Hope provides after-school programs in 27 schools in Volusia County and two in Flagler County. The programs provide at-risk students opportunities to improve grades, have fun, and receive nourishing food. Throughout the holidays, The News-Journal is highlighting the program by publishing the stories of some of its young participants. For more information, visit foodbringshope. org.
When Jakyra MacLeod was in fourth grade at Westside Elementary, she joined FBHonors, a new Food Brings Hope after-school program. To become a member, students must score high in state tests, consistently make the honor roll and receive recommendations by teachers at the school. For nine years, MacLeod continued in FBHonors through Campbell Middle School and Mainland High School, from where she graduated in May.
Now a freshman at the University of Florida, MacLeod said what she likes most about Food Brings Hope is that it gives opportunities to kids who usually would not have the experiences FBH provides. She explained that she was able to take a trip to Epcot with her FBHonors group, an opportunity she never had before. In a fun, yet educational way, she learned and experienced many things not learned in daily life.
At the conclusion of her sophomore year, FBH sponsored MacLeod to attend an invitation-only youth medical conference in Boston.
“My dream of becoming a cardiothoracic surgeon grew stronger as I watched a live surgery and heard medical professionals, with similar backgrounds as
mine, tell their stories as to how they reached their goals,” MacLeod said. “I am so glad I was able to attend this conference thanks to Food Brings Hope. My heart had been set on the right path for my dream to come true.”
At the University of Florida, she especially enjoys her mass media class because she is learning how society and the media interact.
MacLeod said her class discussions are thought-provoking and it's interesting to listen to different perspectives. Since she's been in Gainesville all semester, MacLeod hasn't seen much of her family, so she is anxious to spend Christmas with them. When asked about her Christmas wish list, she said, “I really don't want to get any gifts. As I have gotten older and at this stage in my life, I want to be more of a giver and see everyone else around me be happy!”
She added, “Food Brings Hope has really been a help and a stepping stone to where I am today.”