Meet our Canadian, Iranian, American, Hendrix Class of 2020 Alumna, and new Be Mighty Coordinator Jasmine Zandi. Hailing from Ottawa, Canada, Zandi has become one of Little Rock’s brightest young leaders to fight the good fight of providing sustainable access to nutritious and affordable food.
Her odyssey to Be Mighty Little Rock started in Conway, Arkansas at Hendrix College where she majored in French and International Development & Sustainability.
“The summer after my freshman year at Hendrix, I had the opportunity to work with the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance as a No Kid Hungry Youth Ambassador” said Zandi. “I’ve always loved food and kids, so this seemed like the perfect fit.” Little did Zandi know that she would become invested in the anti-hunger community in Little Rock and around the state.
At Hendrix College, Zandi had the opportunity to study Political Science in France for a year, making her fluent in three languages—English, French, and Farsi. Her time abroad gave her insight on hunger around the globe. Zandi explained, “Hunger is not isolated to the United States. Some countries have much better programs in place to help their citizens, but the problem is quite large. It is quite daunting to think about, but I am motivated by the things I can do in my local community.” Getting involved in her local community is exactly what she did.
After graduating from Hendrix in the spring of 2020, she became an AmeriCorps Service member at the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance (AHRA). AmeriCorps is a federal public service program that encourages volunteerism to fill needs within the community. At the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, Zandi learned that the issue of hunger is not only large, but it is also incredibly multi-faceted. She stated, “we cannot successfully fight hunger if we are not also advocating for affordable housing, SNAP, public health, and environmental sustainability.” Her experience at AHRA spring boarded her into Be Mighty Little Rock.
Zandi shared, “the wonderful folks at the Alliance, who encouraged me to continue my passion for hunger advocacy in Arkansas, thought I should apply for this role.” Since joining the Central Arkansas Library System team, Jasmine has led free food box distributions and helped produce meal kits for cooking demonstrations. However, Zandi has realized that there are still plenty of people unaware of Be Mighty. She shared, “considering we are offering FREE meals, folks seem hesitant to take advantage of resources like Be Mighty. Outreach is an area in which I hope we can make significant progress in the next year. I want everyone to know about the range of resources available throughout the city of Little Rock.”
The new coordinator plans to measure Be Mighty’s success similarly to former coordinator, Kay Kay DeRossette. Zandi shared, “Kay Kay has mentioned this before, but we aren’t so much focused on numbers, because numbers do not paint a holistic picture of hunger in Little Rock. We could say we doubled the number of meals served, but is it because we had appropriate outreach strategies, or because need grew exponentially? Instead, long-term partnerships, especially those that are wide-reaching, will be much more impactful for the local community.”
Zandi has a big job to do. Fortunately, she has good habits to keep herself focused and Be Mighty on track. She takes care of herself by practicing mindfulness. Whether it is going for a walk, talking to a friend, turning the phone off or reading a book, Zandi tries to practice good habits to keep herself going. She also has the support of a loving family. Her brother Hameed, 17, graduates Central High an entire year early with the class of 2021, her mom is a research scientist, her dad works in IT, and who can forget their family shih-tzu Emma,14, who she loves to visit. They are in her corner and so is Central Arkansas Library System. Welcome to CALS, Jasmine!
P.S. Happy Birthday, Jasmine!