Aldi’s ‘Adult Breakfast Club’ shows it truly cares

Aldi is launching a breakfast club to make sure people across the country don’t have to go without breakfast.

Tell me more.

Ahead of the school Easter holidays, Aldi has donated 10 tonnes of cereal and 5,000 gallons of milk to food banks across the country.

New research has found that almost half (44%) of parents from lower-income families are skipping meals to ensure their children have enough food to eat, with breakfast being the most common one to miss.  

That’s awful.

It really is – but that is why initiatives like Aldi’s Adult Breakfast Club are so important, especially during school holidays when parents are under more pressure to feed the whole family.

The supermarket is donating 10 tonnes of healthy cereal and 5,000 gallons of milk and milk alternatives to foodbanks and schools across the country, with the help of charity partner Neighbourly.

It will also be doubling down on its existing donations to local schools during term time, as almost a third (31%) of parents surveyed said that they rely on their children being provided breakfast by their school.  

Anything else?

Kellog’s is another company that has donated breakfast cereal to kids from low-income families – this year, 2023, they are celebrating their 25th year of doing so! To kick off the celebrations, over the last year Kellog’s have donated 25 million bowls of cereal to food banks in the UK.

If you want to help kids get fed over the Easter holidays, contact your local food bank and see if there is anything they are really in need of. 

This article aligns with the UN SDG Zero Hunger.


London’s the first ever National Park City – here’s what that means

One charity is hoping to make London greener, healthier and wilder.

Tell me more!

The National City Park Foundation operates with one goal in mind – to apply the principles of National Parks to our cities, in the hopes of making life better for us, for the planet, and for life upon it.

Specifically, London National Park City is hoping to make life better for all in London. In July 2019, the Mayor of London signed a charter making London the first-ever National Park City.

What does that mean?

There are four main aims that come from London being a National Park City – to connect more people to nature and the outdoors, create more high-quality green and blue space, promote the rich cultural life enabled by the outdoors – and inspire more cities to become National Park Cites!

It’s amazing that there is a charity out there that is completely dedicated to taking care of the nature that exists in urban areas. If you want to get involved with the National City Park Foundation, whether you are based in London or somewhere else, you can find out how on their website.

This article aligns with the UN SDGs Climate Action, Good Health and Wellbeing.


Europe’s food ‘social security’ scheme

Europe is making waves by experimenting with food ‘social security’.

Tell me more.

At the heart of it is a plan to move away from food as something you purchase and trade for – something you need privilege to buy.

Schemes proposed by France and Belgium suggest a fixed sum of money being given to each person (or parent/guardian for minors), perhaps on a card, that can be redeemed like a bank card. Suggested amounts include around €100-150 ($106-159/£88-133) per month for adults and €50-75 ($53-80/£44-67) for children.

Where does the money come from?

Like socialised healthcare (the NHS, for example) the money would come out of taxes. Belgium has suggested adults earning €3,000 ($3,190/£2,650) per monthly would contribute €150 ($159/£133) every month, and that the amount put into the pot would be adjusted based on how much a person earns – less for less income and so forth.

However, each person would still receive the same amount towards food – effectively helping to redistribute the wealth within the country.

Other suggestions include state funding and more – but one thing is for sure, and that is that the idea of food social security isn’t going away.

If you want to help people in the UK with food security today, you can do so by donating to charities like the Food Foundation.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Good Health and Wellbeing.


NASCAR driver donates book vending machine to his elementary school

Reading is incredibly important for early development, but not every child has consistent access to books. However now, elementary school students at Byron Elementary in Michigan can earn them from a token system thanks to a recently donated book vending machine.

The machine was donated by NASCAR driver Erik Jones, who went to the school himself many years ago, and was donated to help celebrate March as Reading Month.

Students can earn tokens for the book vending machine through a reading recognition system throughout the month of March.

A former teacher of Erik’s, Tammy Laurin, contacted him about the idea to bring the book vending machine to the school and help give back to his hometown. 

“I am trying to bring the love of books to the next generation of readers and am so grateful to the Erik Jones Foundation for purchasing us a machine,” Tammy said. “I was determined to get one somehow and was ready to hold fundraisers to do it. Erik providing it means we can immediately start putting books into the hands of kids.”

Erik heard that and just wanted to give back.

“I went here and grew up here and so to be able to do something like that – I think it always has a little extra meaning,” he said. “That’s the cool thing for me.”

This article aligns with the UN SDG Partners of the Goals.


Viral TikTok results in entire group of shelter cats getting adopted

The internet can be an incredibly powerful tool and something as small as a video going viral can change lives. Such is the case of an entire group of cats at a Kansas City, Missouri animal shelter.

The shelter, Wayside Waifs, posted a video to TikTok with the intent of showing off some of their cats available for adoption. The internet caught wind of it and the video went viral. At the time of writing, the video sits at over 1.6 million views. 

With the cute video urging people to adopt, people took to action, adopting all but two of the cats featured in the video.

“It was actually something that one of our feline care technicians thought of. What kind of animal likes people? What kind of animal would wanna snuggle with the other kittens?” Casey Waugh with Wayside Waifs said.

Wayside Waifs is the largest pet adoption campus in Kansas City, and helps over 5,000 animals a year find new homes. The organization has been around since 1944, at one point under another name, and today sits on a 50-acre farm.

They even have a massive pet cemetery called Wayside Waifs Pet Memorial Park.

“[Our mission is] preparing pets and people for the bond of their lives,” they write.

Support the nonprofit through donations or volunteering – find out more.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Partners of the Goals.


Festability: The disability-inclusive music festival

Music is for everyone – it’s a well-known fact and one that music festivals are built around. People from all walks of life coming together for a passion they all share is a beautiful thing.

Unfortunately, for some, festivals don’t feel all that inclusive. That’s a problem that has effectively been fixed, thanks to three mums from Kent and their brilliant inclusive nonprofit festival – Festability.

Debs, Vanessa and Carrie are all mums to children with extra needs. For Debs the motivation was simple – she wanted all of her children to experience live music in a way that was as equal and inclusive as possible. Each of her three children has extra needs, and all experience the world in very different ways.

“My youngest son is blind [and] we can take him anywhere – his white stick gets him all that ‘ooh, bless him’,” Debs tells Smiley News.

“Usually, we end up backstage because the band want to meet him. And if he rocks when he dances, nobody cares.

“But then my eldest son, he rocks when he dances but he doesn’t have the right stick. You always walk away knowing he’s been judged or somehow made him a point of interest. And I wanted an event where he could just go out and be himself – because he’s fab!”

Debs saw a video on Facebook of a small, inclusive festival that took place elsewhere in England and shared it on her timeline.

Never one to shy away from a challenge (or from something that she knows needs to be done), she asked her Facebook friends if anyone would be interested in doing something similar in Kent.

Festability was born.

Festability is a Community Interest Company (CIC) and takes place in Quex Park, Kent, every year. Aimed at everyone, regardless of ability or impairment, the goal of Festability is to create a safe space for people to enjoy music without having to worry about the issues from traditional festivals that can be uncomfortable, inconvenient, or even dangerous for people with disabilities.

“We have one young boy who comes to us every year,” she explains. “I bump into him in town and he’s so excited when he sees me because I am Festability for him – it’s just so lovely!

“I love watching the parent carers relax. You see them walk in, especially the first time, and they’re not sure. And then you see them go, ‘Hang on this is fine; he can do whatever he wants to – because nobody cares!’”

Debs has families who have been to the festival every single year. “They buy the tickets as soon as they go on sale,” she says. “They’re the first ones there, they come in with deckchairs – it’s something I’m super proud of.”

Along with Carrie and Vanessa, Debs has come up with a bunch of different activities to make the festival more enjoyable, and more accessible, to families who have members with additional needs. From messy play (with staff on clean-up duty!) to a VR gaming station for the older ones, Festability is designed for families who need something for everyone – created by people who understand.

Perhaps one of the most important adjustments made by the Festability team is presence of employees who can cover for parent carers so they can enjoy the festival too.

“Carrie manages a charity called SNAAP that’s all about activities for people with disabilities, so we pay their staff to come in for the day,” explains Debs, who knows the struggle well as a parent carer.

“Plus, the whole venue is barriered off, which not only stops people coming in, but people getting out. So, even if your child is a runner (and sometimes they’re a runner and you’re not!) we’ve made sure that they can’t escape.”

It wasn’t until the night after the first Festability that Debs, Carrie, Vanessa and their families really began to realise the full effect of what they had done. 

“We sat there in the dark, scrolling through our phones – the feedback started to come in and it just blew us away,” she says. “It was people saying things like ‘this is the most fun you can have in a field without alcohol’ … the one that really hit me was a mum who contacted us and said, ‘I hope you know that today. You make dreams come true.'”

Festability 2023 takes place on 10 June at the Quex Park country estate in Thanet, Kent. If you want to buy tickets to Festability, or wish to help them out by volunteering, you can do so on their website. To keep up with everything Festability related you can follow them on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Reduced Inequalities.


Junior in high school sets up nonprofit to diversify learning

Finding ways to make education more interesting and fulfilling is something teachers everywhere grapple with. Take that and all the education lost to the pandemic as students had to learn from home, there has been an educational decline for many.

This was something Sophia Libman took to heart. It was incredibly important to her that people get the education that they need while trying to find an interesting way to do it. So she founded X-Time

“I really wanted to find a way for children to explore and engage in educational activities from their home because it was right in the midst of the pandemic,” Sophia tells Smiley News. “And so we started with free online classes, and have now expanded to in-person classes, summer camps, and explore stations.”

Sophia herself is still incredibly young: only a junior in high school, and she started X-Time just over two years ago. She saw something that was happening around her and wanted to make a difference. 

Put succinctly, her favorite part of everything in her programs is the children and seeing them grow. “I love seeing how excited they are and engaged when working with us,” Sophia says. “So in our summer camps or in-person classes, their excitement is contagious.” 

A lot of the work Sophia does is providing educational accessibility to kids who may not have options otherwise.

“For me, it’s really important that children have access to these fun educational materials,” Sophia says. “We try to reach underserved communities, children in hospital settings, for example. I make sure I’m able to provide that because I had the chance when I was younger to find my passion by trying a lot of different activities.

“I want to be able to provide that for others.”

Since its inception in 2020, X-Time has had more than 300 student registrations for classes taught by professors from the University of Illinois, Rose Hulman Institute of Technology, local business owners, published authors, and K-12 teachers. The classes range across the board from standard school subjects like math and science to even things like ballet, hip-hop, and martial arts. 

The educational materials take the form of X-Plore stations that condense the material into entertaining and digestible chunks. And the stations themselves are specialized for different environments depending on the needs of the kid. 

“When at hospitals, it was really important that I communicated closely with a child life specialist, as they know what materials can one be easily sanitized and are good for children to be able to use inside the hospital environment,” Sophia says.

“Where an X-Plore station in a community center looks a little different as a lot of the materials can be touched multiple times, they’re not sanitized after each use, so I think that’s been a really big learning point for me, making sure we’re really meeting the needs of our location and the needs of the community as well.”

Ultimately, Sophia wants to help kids learn in whatever way she can.

“I just want them to be excited to learn, excited to be able to have access to materials, and be able to find their passion,” Sophia says. “I think it’s really important that you’re able to find your spark something that you get excited about and are interested in learning and so being able to provide children with all these different activities, I hope that they can find their passion and take that with them.”

Find out more about getting involved or how you can support X-Time on their website.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Partners of the Goals.


Bower Recycling: it pays to recycle

Thanks to a new app recycling can be good for the planet – and for your wallet.

Ooh – tell me more!

Bower Recycling is an app designed to encourage people to recycle. While everyone knows that recycling is good for the planet, people may find it too complicated, or think it is too much to do on an already busy day.

The app gives people a reward through money or coupons for charitable causes when they recycle everyday items.

Does it work?

In countries like Germany, Finland, Norway, and Canada, which have already implemented financial incentives, the recycling rates are above 90%. Alternatively, only 44.4% of household waste in the UK was recycled in 2020.

If you’re interested in using Bower Recycling, you can do so by downloading their app. Additionally, if you want to support a recycling charity, you can give back to Recycle Now to help encourage and optimise recycling in the UK.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Climate Action.


‘London Lonely Girls Club’ helps bring people together

A club tackling loneliness in London is now sitting at 31,000 members.

Amazing! Tell me more.

The London Lonely Girls Club was founded on Facebook in 2018 by Holly Cooke when she moved to the city.

At the start of 2022, they had 10,000 members – now, five years later, after the COVID-19 lockdowns, they have seen around 20,000 new people join.

Why has this happened?

One in 12 Londoners is affected by severe loneliness, according to a report published by the Campaign to End Loneliness.

When people move to London from other places, as Holly did, it can be difficult to make new friends. Since COVID, Holly has set up a few face-to-face meet-ups per month – brunches, picnics and more – and they will be booked up in 5 minutes.

Holly hopes that she can continue bringing people together and tackling loneliness in the capital – through the power of brunch, cocktails, and puppy yoga!

If you’re interested in getting involved with the London Lonely Girls Club, you can do so on their website. If you want to help people who are struggling with loneliness, you can give back to the Campaign to End Loneliness.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Good Health and Wellbeing.


This group turns waste glass into beautiful kitchenware

Glass bottles, like any other kind of waste or trash, are usually discarded and disregarded by most people. According to the EPA, we only recycle about 31% of our glass, and glass waste makes up about 5% of the trash in landfills. 

One person didn’t see that glass as waste and wanted to find ways to reuse it, turning it into small-batch home and kitchen accessories.

Danielle Ruttenberg is the co-founder, alongside Rebecca Davies and Mark Ellis, of Remark Glass, a Philadelphia-based company that takes old glass and upcycles it into something new.

Things like old wine bottles can become brand-new kitchenware like bowls, cups, or even something like a chandelier.

The process starts with them cleaning and de-labeling the bottles, cutting them to whatever proportion they need, and prepping the glass for heat. Once it’s ready they melt and reshape the glass to whatever their need is. They also try to maintain some of the characteristics of the original glass object to maintain its essence. 

They use this as a tool to help address the recycling crisis and find a new use for objects that would be otherwise discarded and take up space, potentially at the bottom of the ocean. 

“By creating small batch home accessories from post-consumer bottle glass, we aim to build a more sustainable artform and manufacturing practice that simultaneously reduces glass waste on a local level,” they write on their website. 

They even started a sister non-profit called Bottle Underground to help address the problem further.

“Bottle Underground is committed to innovating and localizing systems for collection, recirculation, recycling, downcycling and upcycling,” they write on their website. “By maintaining a high-quality collection system, our team is dedicated to reducing waste now and making the best use of glass for our future.”

This article aligns with the UN SDG Partners of the Goals.