Meet Mason Finocchio, a 2018 national FFA proficiency finalist, who has taken a stand against hunger in his community.
Most kids Mason Finocchio’s age are thinking about college, future careers and their plans for Friday night. Finocchio thinks about those things, too, but his primary concern is helping the less fortunate.
“I found out that in my community, the poverty level is 18 percent, which is 4 percent higher than the national average,” says Finocchio. “Because of that, I decided to start a project through FFA dedicated to knocking out hunger in our community.”
The recent graduate of Bald Eagle Area High School in Howard, Pa., was a finalist at the 2018 National FFA Convention & Expo for his proficiency in community development. Through this proficiency, which began in 2015, Finocchio raised nearly $10,000 to provide nutritious meals for students when they weren’t in school, as well as $500 for healthy snacks and 938 pounds of canned goods.
By applying for the FFA Food for All grant, he has also involved his community with the project through two events: The Fresh is Better Showcase and A Catered Affair.
Through the Fresh is Better Showcase, local agriculture students trade store-bought canned goods with ones they made and deliver them to their food pantry. The second event, A Catered Affair, serves as a fundraiser and education event for the community’s hunger problem.
While these events serve to educate, the participants haven’t been the only people learning. Finocchio has learned, too.
“The project has taught me a lot about communication,” says Finocchio. “Some of the businesses coming to A Catered Affair would drop out at the last second, and we would have to figure out how to fill their spots.”
Whether he is trying to figure out a problem during an event or trying to recruit volunteers, Finocchio feels prepared to take on the challenge, thanks to FFA.
“Participating in career development events like prepared public speaking has really helped when asking for donations,” he says.
Finocchio’s advisor, Todd Biddle, is the one who encouraged him to participate in these FFA events. Biddle has enjoyed seeing his student enhance his skills both in and out of the classroom.
“This project has allowed Mason to contact and network with a lot of cool people in our community,” says Biddle. “He’s worked extremely hard.”
In the future, Finocchio would like to see the project grow and for even more people to come to events — even though tickets have been selling out. He believes this will be possible, partially due to the attention he received as a proficiency finalist.
“More people know about the hunger problem now and can see they can make a difference like I did,” says Finocchio. “It means a lot to make it this far.”