VCS honors Forough Hosseini at Tuesday's School Board meeting

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VCS recognizes Forough Hosseini for her support of public education, underprivileged students

DELAND – The Volusia County School Board on Tuesday honored community leader Forough Hosseini, founder and chair of Food Brings Hope, for her support of public education and the nurturing of underprivileged students.

Two words that embody Hosseini are “hope” and “dream.” The local businesswoman, civic leader, and philanthropist has dedicated her life to fulfilling her “dream” that all school-aged children in our community will be free from hunger and be given “hope” for their future and opportunities to discover their full potential by providing the necessary programs and services to them. She wholeheartedly believes that dreams can and will come true for homeless and low-socioeconomic children, if we provide them the opportunity.

“Your tireless efforts are evidenced in your resolve to unite and to equalize the playing field for all students,” VCS Superintendent Dr. Carmen Balgobin said in presenting the recognition. “We want to say thank you to you for all that you have done in this community. Some people have a unique gift, and you, Mrs. Hosseini, you certainly have it.”

Hosseini, a believer in public education whose three daughters attended Volusia County Schools, thanked School Board members and Balgobin for the honor and for their support of Food Brings Hope’s programs. 

“I think you all agree that no child of ours should go to bed hungry. And no child of ours should be sleeping in a car,” Hosseini said. “We can’t change the world. I don’t think we can change the United States. But we can change Volusia County.”

In 2007, Hosseini founded the nonprofit Food Brings Hope with 27 students at Hinson Middle School, where her daughters were students. Today, the organization serves more than 1,700 students at 30 schools in Volusia and Flagler counties.

Its programs include KidsZone for elementary students and TeenZone for middle and high school students, and the FBHonors program, which concentrates on STEM for high-performing students.

The Weekend Feed-A-Family program, in partnership with Halifax Urban Ministries, distributes 1,500 food bags monthly to provide students in need with enough food to feed their entire family through the weekend.

The VCan (Volusia Can) helpline started last year to provide immediate food or homelessness relief and other services for youth and families with children under 18 and then connect clients to community agencies that can help them gain long term self-sufficiency. VCan receives over 100 calls for help per month, with 450 children assisted in the first seven months of this year.

This year, in partnership with Sodexo, Second Harvest, Mainland High School and volunteers, Hosseini made the Mainland Food Drive Through for all ages a reality. About 700 to 800 food bags were distributed for over 3,000 individuals weekly over two months. To date during the pandemic, Food Brings Hope has distributed about 116 tons of food.

The organization partners with Daytona State College to offer the Pierson Adult Literacy Program, with ESOL classes and GED tutoring offered at the San Jose Mission in Pierson. A KidZone program is offered there, along with the Pierson Culturally Sensitive Food Pantry.

For the past eight years, Food Brings Hope has provided the Eric Christopher DeVriese, Jr. HOPE House to provide a safe and stable living environment for unaccompanied youth as a means for them to continue their high school education and begin a clear path to a career.

Food Brings Hope’s latest initiatives are a Virtual Homework Helpline and the Can 32114 Prosperity Initiative concentrating on community members living in the 32114 zip code with support provided in the areas of education, job training, housing, child and family care, and food security.

Hosseini is always dreaming and proposing new initiatives to help our children achieve educational success and our community become a better one.

“Food Brings Hope impacts thousands of students – look at how that dream has come true,” Balgobin said.

PHOTO CAPTION: Volusia County School Board Chair Ida Wright, center, and Vice Chair Linda Cuthbert, right, present the recognition to Forough Hosseini, left, in appreciation of her continued commitment and generous support of public education.

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