As part of our Alum Profile Series, we chatted with Marc Jacobson (Emerson ‘99). During his time as a fellow, Marc was placed with Hunger Action Coalition of Michigan in Detroit and the Coalition on Human Needs in Washington, D.C. Marc now serves as the CEO of Hunger Free Colorado.
U.S. hunger advocates were eager to see the results of the recent midterm elections – and the impact they would have on food security. Among the hundreds of federal, state, and local seats up for election, Colorado made history by passing the first-ever ballot initiative, Proposition FF, to provide free school meals for children statewide.
Proposition FF will create and fund the Healthy School Meals for All Program under the Department of Education, which will provide free school meals to all students in Colorado public schools. It will also provide local food purchasing grants and increase wages for employees who prepare and serve food.
In his role as CEO of Hunger Free Colorado, Marc worked together with coalition partners, advocates, and organizers across the state to spread awareness and help pass Proposition FF. In our chat with Marc, he shared the thoughtful and dedicated work that went into the passage of this ballot initiative: “We built this policy based on community voice in shaping what this could look like, and then we brought the community-based coalition together to move the policies forward.” From interviewing workers and parents all across the state to collaborating alongside more than 100 statewide coalition partners, the initiative took an intentional look at how transformational change around the entire school meals system in Colorado could be possible. The ballot initiative passed with over 55% of the vote.
Marc served as an Emerson Fellow in 1998 and 1999 The fellowship’s professional development days helped spark his interest in community organizing, which he later pursued in a number of roles, including as Statewide Organizing Director for the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty. His fellowship and organizing experience came full circle in his current role at Hunger Free Colorado, where the policy proposals put forward are heavily influenced and pushed by the organizing team’s work – including Proposition FF.
Marc has continued to give back to the Emerson National Hunger Fellowship Program by hosting fellows at both the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty as well as Hunger Free Colorado. When asked what advice he would give to young advocates entering the anti-hunger field, Marc answered: “Keep challenging yourself. Take jobs where you will learn and continue to stretch yourself in positive ways”.