Ruleville, MS

As part of Vitamin Angels’ “Thrive to Five” program, Serve First has been able to bring Essentials to a devastatingly poor area of the United States and help feed some of the most innocent victims of the poverty: the children.

2005 – 2007

In 2005 Serve First adopted a group of schoolchildren in rural Mississippi with the goal of helping to nourish students who were not getting the nutrition they needed for proper development. “These are the kids who are at the most vulnerable stage of life, in terms of their physical and mental development. Oftentimes, the school lunch they have on Friday will be the last full meal they’ll have until the following Monday,” said Rich Razgaitis, former Board Director for Univera Serve First.

After only two years of receiving nutritional support from Univera, school officials reported a drastic drop in student absences. While a total of 1,992 absences were recorded in 2005, that number dropped to just 92 in 2007.

“Univera Serve First was our charter partner for what has evolved into Vitamin Angels’ ‘Thrive to Five’ campaign. This campaign focuses on reaching children under 5 years old and pregnant women in our own country and around the world,” said Vitamin Angels’ President and Founder Howard Schiffer. “Serve First’s commitment to help reach children in the Mississippi Delta has now grown into a campaign in over 50 major cities and 22 countries around the world.”

“Since I’ve been taking the vitamins, they make me feel more energized. And I haven’t been getting sick like usual, like getting colds and fevers and stuff. Really, I’ve been feeling great and healthy and wonderful.”-Student

“It touches me because now it feels like someone really cares about me. And it makes me feel special.”-Student

“These parents are just like us – they’re trying to do the best for their kids, but they’re having trouble paying their electricity bills, their gas bills, their rent. To get the best nutrition is just a big burden for them. It’s something they want to do, but it’s really not within their means. The teachers sometimes have to chip in money to pay somebody’s electric bill so they can keep their lights on so the kids can do their homework at night.”-Howard Schiffer, Vitamin Angels President & Founder

“They’re really loving them [Essentials]. They have a lot more energy. They’re very active. When I forget about them, they holler and they want their vitamins.”-Teacher, Mary Garcia

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