15 May 2024

Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation and Chapter One announce winner of story competition

Winning story on the theme 'bringing people together through food' added to the Chapter One Global Free Library

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On the International Day of Families, we are delighted to announce that the Chapter One and Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation Story Competition has been won by Victoria Eames (using the pen name V.J. Hooker) with her entry Cooking Pot Woods.

A Chapter One Platinum Partner, the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation is Sodexo’s employee-led independent registered charity which aims to tackle food insecurity and its root causes.

Since 2021 the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation has supported Sodexo’s employees to provide children with 1:1 reading support at the time they need it most, in partnership with Chapter One’s online reading volunteer programme. Over the 2023-24 school year, they are supporting over 100 children and have already completed nearly 700 hours of reading support.

In a great example of how our corporate partnerships often deepen and develop, Sodexo’s Parents and Carers Network both drove and sponsored a unique Stop Hunger and Chapter One Story Competition. They invited Sodexo UK & Ireland employees to use their three days of paid volunteer days to craft a children's story on the theme 'bringing people together through food'.

Sodexo employees were encouraged to co-author their entries with their child(ren) or other young people in their immediate circle. And - since the story is meant for children - entrants were also encouraged to nominate their young person to be a member of the jury!

The winning book Cooking Pot Woods, which was inspired by the traditional story Stone Soup, was announced and then read aloud by Jean Renton, CFO of Sodexo UK & Ireland, at an event at Sodexo’s UK head offices. The reading was also attended by children from two Chapter One schools: Galleywall Primary School (London) - and (virtually) by children from Hill Top Primary School in Doncaster (where children also read weekly with Sodexo online reading volunteers).

Cooking Pot Woods has been professionally edited and illustrated (by Arantza Valdivia), and has today been published in Chapter One’s Global Free Library where thousands of children will read it worldwide! It will also be available on the Chapter One reading platform for use by our online reading volunteers during their weekly reading sessions with their young readers.

The competition shortlist was announced in March. The three shortlisted stories were:

  • Cooking Pot Woods (inspired by the traditional tale of Stone Soup) by Victoria Eames writing under the pen name V.J. Hooker

  • The Parrot Who Loved Carrot by Harriet McKay and her 5-year-old twins Megan and Alistair

  • Raccoons’ Big Feast: A Taste of Togetherness by Daria Wilson and her brother Dalton

Victoria Eames, the winner of the competition, said: “Winning the competition means so much to me! I have spent the last three years studying child development and how children become readers with a view to writing my own line of children’s books. I am so grateful for this opportunity which has given me a platform to follow my aspirations.”

Lisa Kilbey, one of the co-chairs of the Sodexo Parents & Carers Network said: “Partnering with Chapter One and Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation has been an absolute pleasure from start to finish! The support Chapter One has continuously provided by bringing their expertise to the planning and execution has been key in the success of the competition. The engagement we’ve seen from the business and network members has been great, and the talent we saw in the stories submitted – wow! Whether it’s been our colleagues writing their stories, the judging panel reviewing entries or our committee discussing next steps, the whole experience working with Chapter One on this competition has everyone feeling like a winner.”

Emma Bell, CEO of Chapter One UK, said: “It’s been an absolute delight working with Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation and the Sodexo Parents & Carers Network on the story competition. We love their engagement, inspiration and the way they have involved young people in all aspects of the contest. Huge congratulations to everyone involved - we can’t wait to share the story with the world on the Chapter One Global Free Library.”

Watch video

Jean Renton, CFO for Sodexo UK & Ireland, reading aloud the winning book Cooking Pot Woods to the visiting children from Galleywall Primary School, Southwark

It all starts with literacy.