Board members Gretchen Schubert, Ashley Staples, Katherine Polachek and Angela Woudenberg.

Joni Sucato, founder and president of the Feeding Students USA nonprofit, started her business with one cupcake. 

Sucato often spent her mornings bringing treats and reading to third-grade students in the Wilson Elementary School District. 

One morning, she saw a little boy put his cupcake into his backpack rather than eat it in class with the other children. Later, she learned that his family was struggling to put food on the table, and he took his cupcake home to share with his siblings so they, too, could experience the joy of a sweet treat.  

“After learning about this little boy’s family, my friend and I went to the grocery store and bought enough nutritious food to last them two weeks. Through this experience, we learned that many other families were struggling as well,” Sucato said.  

From that day forward, she was committed to bringing community resources together to develop and implement a sustainable, nutritious food source for hungry families, one school district at a time. As a result, Feeding Students USA was created in January 2013.  

FSUSA has both adult board members and junior board members, who range from ages 6-13.  

“I think it is important to involve kids and show them what it means to give back to their community,” Sucato said. 

 The organization currently helps working families who do not qualify for state or government assistance. FSUSA feeds approximately 7,000 families throughout the Scottsdale Unified School District each year, along with additional families in the Creighton, Washington, and Balsz districts, V.H. Lassen Elementary School and Career Success Schools.  

FSUSA partners with the community specialist at each school to identify children who are coming to school hungry. Once notified by the specialist, they work closely with Midwest Food Bank and local grocery stores to ensure that each family gets what they need. 

“We can provide food for a family in as little as three to four hours,” Sucato said.  

They also hold an annual holiday drive to provide families with meals for Thanksgiving. This year, their goal is to provide 1,600 feasts to families spread across five school districts. Each household will receive a frozen turkey, bread, stuffing, cranberry sauce, assorted canned vegetables, pumpkin and milk. 

To support the Thanksgiving feast initiative, folks can donate directly to the website or drop canned goods at their food pantry located at 3313 N. 40th St. on the Monte Vista Church of the Nazarene campus between November 8-19, 2021.  

Sucato said that if folks would like to volunteer with distribution, the team will sort and pack food on Saturday, November 20. To inquire about volunteering, email jonisucato@gmail.com.