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Gates Foundation: The Story of Food

If you were tasked with ending hunger by 2030, what would you do? For starters, you'd probably come up with as many solutions as possible — as fast as possible.

That's exactly what the World Food Programme (WFP) is doing. And they're asking for all the help they can get.

When it comes to feeding the 795 million people living in hunger every day, time is of the essence. Solutions are needed — fast. And the best way to come up with out-of-the-box solutions? Out-of-the-box ideation.


That's where the Innovation Accelerator comes in.

All images via the Innovation Accelerator, used with permission.

Established in 2015 in Munich, Germany, the program has a simple mission: "Finding the bright minds, getting them together with the right partners, and actually making ideas happen," explains Bernhard Kowatsch, head of the Innovation Accelerator. "With doing all of that, we can make zero hunger a reality by 2030."

They fast-track ideas by providing intensive training, funding, and even coaching from the industry's best and brightest. Think of them as a startup incubator, only their main goal is addressing global hunger.

Here are the 15 game-changing projects that the Innovation Accelerator is working on right now:

1. ShareTheMeal lets you donate meals to kids in need for just $0.50.

To date, they've delivered over 11 million meals (and counting) to kids in Malawi, Lebanon, Syria, and other places.

2. Locals are being taught how to use hydroponics to grow crops in the slums of Peru.

Hydroponics uses nutrient solutions to grow produce without soil. The best part? The families are teaching other families the technique on their own.

3. Nutrifami makes healthy eating fun for Colombians.

Nutrifami engages food-insecure families with fun online games and activities focused on smart purchasing and building healthier habits day by day.

4. MAPS tracks the nutritional progress of people in El Salvador.

The Monitoring App for Social Programmes (MAPS in its Spanish acronym) gives officials real-time access to data so they can reduce malnutrition more quickly in vulnerable communities.

5. The Food Computer is creating recipes out of climate in Jordan.

The Food Computer can control climate variables like humidity and carbon dioxide inside a special growing chamber, allowing researchers to test any location's conditions and let farmers know what crops will grow best.

6. The WFP is using satellites to monitor their revamped food infrastructure in South Sudan.

Image via iStock.

To monitor the progress of building new water resources and repairing roads, the WFP is using satellite imagery so they have a trusty eye in the sky.

7. Transformers is transforming food waste into school food in Kenya.

They're taking surplus food headed for the landfill and turning it into hot, balanced meals for schoolchildren.

8. Farmers in Africa are being taught how to care for their bounty better.

The Zero Post-Harvest Losses initiative teaches farmers modern harvesting techniques and provides them with airtight storage silos to prevent crop loss.

9. The smartphone app AgriUp is giving Guatemalan farmers the knowledge they need to be successful.

AgriUp provides farmers with tools such as weather reports, farming advice, and nutrition tips so they can improve their food security, as well as the local economy.

10. Building Blocks is changing how aid is delivered in Pakistan.

Building Blocks is taking out the middle man and creating a cheaper, quicker, and more direct money transfer, perfect for delivering aid faster and safer.

11. Real-time data is preventing stunted growth in infants.

Adaptive Programming uses real-time data on the health of citizens in order to come up with more accurate care and to help prevent conditions such as infant stunting.

12. The Virtual Farmers Market (VFM) in Zambia is connecting farmers and buyers like never before.

Using the same approach that has made apps like Airbnb and Lyft so successful, VFM is an online marketplace that lets farmers expand their reach, improve profits, and boost the local economy.

13. These Syrian refugees are learning digital skills and creating food security in the process.

Tech for Food teaches refugees digital skills such as photo editing so they can work from anywhere in the world, improving their livelihood and putting food on the table.

14. Smart Meals is changing how school food is delivered in Burundi.

School food kept running out way before the next delivery, so the Smart Meals project revamped the entire inventory system to make it more user-friendly and to ensure food gets delivered on time, every single school day.

15. The power of storytelling is opening people's eyes.

Through firsthand stories, the WFP's ZeroHunger Stories project is creating a more personal connection to their causes and getting people to better understand the importance of taking action immediately.

We need to work concisely, quickly, and as one if we're going address this global issue sooner rather than later.

Yes, it's an uphill climb, but let's not forget, the end goal of zero hunger by 2030 is right within our sight. "If we broaden the network of people that care about hunger and are willing to support it," adds Kowatsch, "it's even easier and more realistic that we will make that happen."

In fact, if you have your own idea for addressing world hunger, submit it to the Innovation Accelerator by March 14 to help make their vision a reality.

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

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Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

TikTok about '80s childhood is a total Gen X flashback.

As a Gen X parent, it's weird to try to describe my childhood to my kids. We're the generation that didn't grow up with the internet or cell phones, yet are raising kids who have never known a world without them. That difference alone is enough to make our 1980s childhoods feel like a completely different planet, but there are other differences too that often get overlooked.

How do you explain the transition from the brown and orange aesthetic of the '70s to the dusty rose and forest green carpeting of the '80s if you didn't experience it? When I tell my kids there were smoking sections in restaurants and airplanes and ashtrays everywhere, they look horrified (and rightfully so—what were we thinking?!). The fact that we went places with our friends with no quick way to get ahold of our parents? Unbelievable.

One day I described the process of listening to the radio, waiting for my favorite song to come on so I could record it on my tape recorder, and how mad I would get when the deejay talked through the intro of the song until the lyrics started. My Spotify-spoiled kids didn't even understand half of the words I said.

And '80s hair? With the feathered bangs and the terrible perms and the crunchy hair spray? What, why and how?

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Ginger the dog reunited with family 5 years after being stolen

Ginger's family never gave up hope, and it payed off.

Ginger the dog was missing for five years before being reunited with her family.

A sweet pup is finally home with her family where she belongs after way too many years away.

Ginger the dog was stolen from her family back in 2017. Her owner, Barney Lattimore of Janesville, Wisconsin, never gave up the hope that his sweet girl was out there somewhere. Whenever he'd see a dog listed on a rescue website or humane society website that even remotely resembled his Ginger, he would inquire about the dog. Unfortunately, it was never her. You'd think that after a while he would stop, but if he had, he likely wouldn't have gotten the sweetest reunion.

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That first car is a rite of passage into adulthood. Specifically, the hard-earned lesson of expectations versus reality. Though some of us are blessed with Teslas at 17, most teenagers receive a car that’s been … let’s say previously loved. And that’s probably a good thing, considering nearly half of first-year drivers end up in wrecks. Might as well get the dings on the lemon, right?

Of course, wrecks aside, buying a used car might end up costing more in the long run after needing repairs, breaking down and just a general slew of unexpected surprises. But hey, at least we can all look back and laugh.

My first car, for example, was a hand-me-down Toyota of some sort from my mother. I don’t recall the specific model, but I definitely remember getting into a fender bender within the first week of having it. She had forgotten to get the brakes fixed … isn’t that a fun story?

Jimmy Fallon recently asked his “Tonight Show” audience on Twitter to share their own worst car experiences. Some of them make my brake fiasco look like cakewalk (or cakedrive, in this case). Either way, these responses might make us all feel a little less alone. Or at the very least, give us a chuckle.

Here are 22 responses with the most horsepower:

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