Original story: Oakland News Now
Two Major Holiday Season Donations Come in to Nutrition Services to Support Students in Need. One Donation Comes from a Bay Area Tech Firm Founded by an Iranian Refugee, the Other Comes from a Nutritional Biochemist
Oakland (from OUSD) – In a holiday move that aligns perfectly with the Sanctuary District status of Oakland Unified School District (OUSD), an Iranian refugee and the Bay Area technology firm he founded has donated enough money to cover outstanding lunch debt for hundreds of students. Payam Zamani, CEO of One Planet, donated $15,600 to the District’s Nutrition Services Department to help ensure that all students are able to have nutritious meals at school.
One Planet’s Oakland School Lunch contribution helps eliminate the fall semester meal debt for students who qualify for reduced priced meals. “It was important for all of us at One Planet to do our small part to help eliminate one of the hurdles children face to receiving an education – the unnecessary financial stress associated with one of the most basic needs, food,” said Zamani.
About 73 percent of all students in Oakland Unified School District qualify for Free and Reduced priced meals. Last school year, the District served nearly 10,000 breakfasts and more than 18,000 lunches every day. “Learning is significantly more challenging for students if they are in class on an empty stomach,” said Irene Reynolds, Executive Director of Nutrition Services. “Our students depend on school meals every day, even if they don’t have the resources to pay for them and we don’t turn any student away.”
Like many students and families in Oakland Unified School District, One Planet’s Zamani knows all too well what it’s like to be persecuted for who you are or where you came from. “As a child growing up in Iran, I was not permitted to receive an education, because of my faith as a Baha’i. Baha’is were not, and still are not, treated as equal citizens in Iran,” he said. “Since coming to the United States as a teenage refugee, I have come to view accessible education for all as one of the foundations of this great nation.”
“Those students who do not receive food cannot fully access their education,” said Reynolds. “When students are hungry, it is harder to focus, students are more easily distracted. That’s why we work every day to ensure all students have the food they need. We are so appreciative of the support given to us by One Planet, and our other generous donor, Mr. Siler.”
Just before One Planet made their donation, nutritional biochemist, Scott Siler heard that OUSD has some outstanding student meal debt, so he donated $1000. “My primary motivation for contributing derives from my academic training in nutrition combined with my experience as a parent. Undernourished children find it challenging to reach their potential, particularly in the classroom. Something so seemingly simple as a small lunch can help with focus and cognitive function in the classroom and beyond,” said Siler. “I am pleased to support the OUSD lunch program and help children reach their academic potential thanks in part to access to proper nutrition. I speak out in hopes that it will encourage even more people to step up and contribute.”
“OUSD is a full service community school district, so we serve the whole child, including in many cases, their nutritional needs,” said Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell. “It’s organizations like One Planet and individuals like Mr. Siler that enable us to do all that we do to support our students and their families. We extend our deepest thanks and heartiest of happy holidays to them.”
About One Planet
One Planet is a hybrid tech firm that owns and operates a suite of online technology and media businesses, is an early stage investor in cutting edge technologies and businesses, and also serves as a startup business incubator. One Planet takes its social impact seriously as it supports new entrepreneurs, helps bring ideas to life, and encourages companies to consider their contributions to humanity and the environment. One Planet donates 20 percent of its annual
profits to charitable causes. This philosophy is embodied in the company’s tagline Innovation x Intention, measuring more than financial success, but by adding value to make the world a better place.
One Planet’s owned brands include Buyerlink, Contractors.com, California.com, and Quite Remarkable. And some of its investments include The Real Real, Soulpancake, Volans-i and IronClad. For more information, please visit https://oneplanetops.com/ or follow @OnePlanetOps.
About Oakland Unified School District
In California’s most diverse city, Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) is dedicated to creating a learning environment where “Every Student Thrives!” More
than half of our students speak a non-English language at home. And each of our 83 schools is staffed with talented individuals uniting around a common set of values: Students First, Equity, Excellence, Integrity, Cultural Responsiveness and Joy.
Oakland Unified School District is committed to preparing all students for college, career and community success. To learn more about OUSD’s Full Service Community District focused on academic achievement while serving the whole child in safe schools, please visit OUSD.org and follow us @OUSDnews.