Hometown Hero: Operation Move for School

Growing up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Mariah Mendoza (COL '16) saw issues of malnutrition, obesity, and fitness in low-income communities in the twin cities area. In 2015, an idea was born: to address such issues in her hometown through the sale of healthy food, all while putting those proceeds into a college scholarship fund for low-income high school students.

In May 2015, SIPS gave Mariah a grant to help her project come alive. Throughout the summer of 2015, Mariah spent her time making healthy popsicles for Minneapolis farmer's markets, selling them to neighborhood residents. Not only did Mariah sell healthy foods to these residents, but she also utilized her time at the farmer's markets to help inform the neighborhood that healthy food options were available, easy to make, and delicious. By the end of the summer, Mariah had sold her popsicles at the farmer's markets, donated the proceeds to a scholarship fund throughout the months, and birthed a new idea: a healthy "fast food" restaurant to further show community members that being healthy and battling obesity and malnutrition did not always have to be a struggle.

"Though my project didn't turn out as initially planned, throughout the summer my organization and SIPS helped me want to expand and diversify the healthy food industry. I now want to open a fast food entity for healthy food all while promoting an education outlet for communities in need."