Feeding South Florida hosts Fifth Annual “Feed Your Creativity” contest for Students

Written By Josie Gulliksen
April 25, 2024 at 6:07 PM

Leila Murray of St. Thomas Aquinas school in Fort Lauderdale winner of Feeding South Florida’s “Feed Your Creativity Art” Competition 2023 at the truck unveiling featuring her winning artwork. Image courtesy Feeding South Florida.

Feeding South Florida is known for feeding the less fortunate and for the last five years they have also been feeding public school students’ artistic creativity.

Their “Feed Your Creativity” art contest allows elementary through high school students in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties an opportunity to have their artwork displayed throughout South Florida. Students have until April 30 to submit their artwork.

“We have a robust youth ambassador program in South Florida that starts in elementary school where we educate students on food insecurity and understanding that plight in South Florida,” said Paco Velez, president & CEO of Feeding South Florida.

The art contest was created as a way “to inspire the youth and spur their creative juices. We were curious what artwork the students would create when asked to illustrate ‘What does hunger mean to you?’,” said Velez.

Additionally, the competition is part of the organization’s “Summer Hunger Ends Here” initiative designed specifically to raise awareness as well as funds to address the issue of summer hunger for kids in South Florida.

Hunger is something many students deal with during the summer months, given that more than 300,000 of them rely on free or reduced meals during the school year.

The contest, which last year drew 160 submissions, and this year is expected to reach 200, is the hunger initiative’s art component and an effort to engage students, their parents, and teachers in this artistic process, as well as recognize the artistic talent of South Florida public school students.

Leila Murray winner of the 2023 competition with her award and Paco Velez, president & CEO of Feeding South Florida. Image courtesy Feeding South Florida.

“Students are encouraged to create work in any medium they choose, there are no limitations. It can be digital, mixed media, oils, whatever their preference,” said Velez. “The students are able to dig into their own creative mind to express what the question means to them.”

Aside from creating artwork, seeing their art displayed at the gallery opening creates a multi-faceted feeling for the artists “because they see firsthand how viewers interpret their work and it’s also a great way for the students to learn from others and enhance and grow their creativity.”

In turn, parents can discover their children’s creativity and experience their talent in a way they have never seen before and when the students experience that pride from their parents it fuels and inspires their passion for art.

“The hope is also always that this resonates with school administrators too, so they see the importance of the arts,” said Velez.

Here is how the contest works:

Once the contest is closed, judges from the art world choose an overall winner and there are also winners for staff and social media favorites. Those three winners are announced at the gallery night which is scheduled for May 16.

Leila Murray, of St. Thomas Aquinas school next to her artwork at the 2023 Feeding South Florida’s “Feed Your Creativity” Art Competition Gallery Night. Photo courtesy Feeding South Florida.

“For the gallery night, we transform one of our Feeding South Florida sorting spaces and display all the submissions in a gallery setting,” said Velez. “The parents, teachers and sponsors all attend and view the amazing artwork.”

The winning piece then gets wrapped around one of the organization’s semi-trailers, becoming a 36-foot moving billboard that will be unveiled at the winning student’s school on May 30 and afterwards, travel throughout South Florida for all to witness.

“The unveiling of the truck display is a huge event, last year the school even brought out the marching band to play a drumroll for the reveal,” said Velez.

And for Feeding South Florida, “the event is an advocacy tool to show there is always room at the table to be involved, for young artists to be involved and just as important, to help them represent who they are,” said Velez.

The deadline to apply is April 30th. Students can apply with a parent’s help at is a nonprofit media source for the arts featuring fresh and original stories by writers dedicated to theater, dance, visual arts, film, music, and more. Don’t miss a story at

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