One simple quote has spiraled into motivation and seemingly a mission statement for Sara Sperry.
The quote made famous by Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” has proven to be the launching point for Sperry’s efforts with FARM to KIDS.
She has recently settled in to a small local space with one mission and one vision: investing in the health of the next generation, one pound of almonds at a time.
“I was looking for a space where I could create a food safe facility,” she said, noting that they first began the philanthropy-based organization in October 2015, which quickly spiraled from interest. “It’s just me packing almonds. FARM to KIDS is backed by our family business.”
The family business, Sperry Farms, owns and operates approximately 1,000 acres of planted almond trees. FARM to KIDS was founded by the fifth generation of almond farmers.
“My husband is the one that came up with the idea. I can’t take credit,” Sperry said. “Giving is in my nature. It needs to be something that we’re giving back.”
The ‘giving back’ comes in the way of a pound for pound match program. Every pound of almonds sold through the FARM to KIDS website (farmtokids.org), is then matched by a one pound almond donation to kids in need. Barely five short months since its first ‘match,’ Sperry shared that close to 250 pounds of almonds have been donated.
The donations are made in 25 pound increments. To date a variety of schools as well as programs have benefitted from the generosity of customer orders including CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Stanislaus County and THRIVE (Transforming Habits Respecting Individuality Valuing Education), a Stanislaus County After School Program.
The reward for Sperry comes in the way of making the personal deliveries.
“To be able to have this accessible to kids,” she said of the healthy snack, “kids just love it.”
My favorite days are the days when I get to do a donation,” she continued. “The kids ... the excitement that they have, you’d think I was giving them cash.”
As an outdoor enthusiast and a mom on the go, Sperry also recognizes the unique opportunity she is offering the students in the way of ‘clean fuel’ as she calls the healthy snack.
“There’s a lot you can do with almonds too,” Sperry shared of the product. “One cup of almonds yielded three cups of almond milk and the leftover almond meal I used to make a vegan cheese, which was super easy and tasted amazing.
“I love how diverse the almond is.”
Recognizing the opportunity to teach children the lesson of giving as well as have them be recipients, the philanthropist tested a ‘Classroom Challenge’ utilizing the classroom of a friend who happened to be a teacher. Parents and family members were encouraged to visit the website and purchase almonds toward the 25 pound goal. Once the goal was reached, a 25 pound box holding the treasured treat was delivered to the classroom by Sperry.
“The classroom challenge is in California only,” she said, “since I personally deliver them. Shipping would be too expensive.”
Not one to turn down opportunity, however, Sperry added if an out of state classroom took interest and chose to cover the shipping cost she would be more than happy to consider that.
“This is not just our philanthropy,” Sperry said of FARM to KIDS, “it’s our contribution. We’re not in this to make money; we’re in this to share health.”
FARM to KIDS is not operated as a 501 c3 non-profit.
“We’ve not done that paperwork,” Sperry said. “For us right now, we just wanted to see how the first year goes.”
Sperry noted the TOMS shoe company and their giving business model, as an example of a company which is making positive change sans the 501 c3 status.
“The outpouring … the help from other people,” Sperry added as the most surprising facet of the new endeavor. “Stickman Ventures did my website. They’re so smart and ‘on it.’ Our landlord here, Ron Holcomb … just the generosity and love. Everyone is so on board and wants to see it succeed. We all just naturally want to help people.”
Sperry operates FARM to KIDS locally. While there is not a traditional store front, the location offers on-line customers the opportunity to bypass shipping and pick up their order within two to three days of placing their order.
“I feel the movement is going more toward the giving and supporting those companies,” Sperry said. “We’re just a small drop in the bucket, but people need to see this positive change.”
To contact Sperry, e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website www.farmtokids.org.