A conversation with Franza and Melina, Teen Board President and Vice President.
The Rachel’s Table Teen Board’s mission is to alleviate childhood hunger, educate youth about food insecurity, and advocate for food justice in Western Massachusetts through events and projects. Open to all “teens”, we have had members from 6th grade-12th grade, of any faith, background, and culture who are interested in learning about food justice and participating in service events. All events and meetings are teen-planned and led! While based in the Springfield area, the teen board welcomes teens from Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties to participate in a variety of ways. Most activities are in person, and some are virtual.
Over the past 12 years the teen board has served the community, built friendships, and inspired future members and leaders. But don’t take my word for it – President and Vice President of the Teen Board, Franza and Melina, are going to tell you about their experiences being teen board officers and leaders!
Introducing Franza and Melina!
F: Hello! My name is Franza Mazimpaka and I am a senior at West Springfield High School. I am president of the Teen Board and have been a member for the last 4 years.
M: Hello, my name is Melina Fricchione, and I am a senior at West Springfield High School. I am the current Vice President of Rachel’s Table of Western Massachusetts’ Teen Board. I have been involved with the group ever since my freshman year of high school.
Teen Board members after packing 35 kosher thanksgiving bags
How did you get involved with the teen board?
F: I decided to join the Teen Board my freshman year because of my older sister Tacia who attended meetings and events. When I saw what she was doing, and how large of an impact it was making, I decided to join.
M: I was an active volunteer who would attend meetings and service events for the first two years. This gave me a good idea of what Rachel’s Table stood for, and all the good it did. I knew that I wanted to become more involved, so my junior year I ran for and was elected as an officer.
As High School Seniors, what has been your biggest take away from being an officer?
F: Through the last 4 years I have learned so much not only about food insecurity but also learned so much about the land and resourcefulness of farms, as well as grocery stores and food deserts amongst Western Massachusetts.
M: I knew that I wanted to become more involved, so my junior year I became an officer. Being an officer allows you to really put your ideas into action and be the reason a change is happening in your community.
To you, what are some of the most impactful events the Teen Board has done so far in 2023?
M: The Holyoke backpack program! This is where we filled hundreds of backpacks of food which we donated to Holyoke public schools to distribute to those in need. Another event is the Teen Glean (which sadly got rained out this year) where we gather crops that farms would otherwise not sell, and we donate them. These are just a few examples of the incredible ways we give back to our community!
What events do we have to look forward to in 2024?
F: Outrun Hunger 5K run and 1 mile walk! It will be on May 19th in Forest Park, more info coming soon.
For the rest of the 2024 school year the Rachel’s Table Teen Board meetings will continue to be held monthly at the Pleasant View Senior Center in East Longmeadow. The Teen Board appreciates the opportunity to share this amazing space.
Rachel’s Table Teen Board in Photos!
The Rachel’s Table Teen Board is graciously funded by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation. Without their generous support RTWM could not support youth in their mission to educate youth about food insecurity and alleviate childhood hunger in Western Mass.