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2017 Healthy School Hero: Rachel Silber

President, Parent Teacher Student Organization at Hollywood Hills High School

For Rachel Silber, working to end child hunger is personal.

Silber and her four siblings grew up in Israel, where their parents had emigrated from Egypt, using all of their savings in the process. They struggled to feed five kids, and many nights Silber went to sleep starving.

“In my early childhood, I promised myself that I would not allow kids to grow up in poverty, as much as I could,” she says.

Silber has held herself to that promise ever since, making it her life’s mission to help children in need, regardless of their color, faith or culture. Ever since she immigrated to the United States, she has been involved with various charity organizations—and no matter what the cause, she’s always focused her efforts on the children.

When her daughter, Rona, was a freshman at Hollywood Hills High School (HHHS), Silber joined the Parent Teacher Student Organization (PTSO) and later became president. About a year ago, she was approached by the school’s athletics director, Coach Perry, who asked the PTSO if they could provide food for student athletes before games and during training. He was concerned because some students had fainted from hunger during training.

Since the Florida-based supermarket chain Publix was already donating food for special events, Silber approached the local store’s management to provide the school with daily donations. She got other local supermarkets to join the cause as well. Every night, Silber and her daughter drive to the stores between 9 and 11:30 p.m. to collect the donated goods, and the next morning, they deliver them to the school. Silber spends additional time researching and building relationships with other organizations that may be able to help. The demanding hours and personal expenses can take a toll, she acknowledges, but the challenges pale in comparison to the rewards.

“Seeing the students every morning waiting eagerly for the goodies that they can eat and take home with them makes my volunteer work worth it regardless of all that’s involved,” she says.

Silber is currently in negotiations with a few local businesses for food donations that the school’s culinary department students could cook for the Athletics Department, teachers and staff. She also hopes to improve school breakfast and lunch with healthier choices.

But first things first: The big smiles and thankful handshakes from students and parents already benefiting from the food donations bring Silber more satisfaction than she could hope for.

“I am blessed and fortunate to be able to serve the community and make a difference in some people’s lives,” Silber says. “I vowed to feed our students better than I was fed at their age, and thanks to the local business community, I believe I succeeded.”