The Stephen J. Brady Stop Hunger Scholarship program recognizes student innovation and youth-led solutions to fight hunger in America. These young people are creating awareness and mobilizing peers in their communities to be catalysts for change. The scholarship awardees comprise a wide variety of students, ages 5 to 25, who are recognized at the national and regional level and hail from across the country. Since the program’s inception in 2007, Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation has awarded over $800,000 in grants and scholarships.
2021 Stop Hunger Stephen J. Brady Scholars videos are highlighted here.
Samantha Kopec, Rising College Freshman / Clearwater, FL
After a Thanksgiving volunteer activity at a group home in Florida, Samantha knew she could positively impact the lives of foster children. So in 2019, she combined her love for Italian cooking with her passion for helping others by co-founding, with her sister the nonprofit organization, Feeding the Fosters. This organization helps alleviate some of the financial burden faced by foster families when meal planning and grocery shopping by ensuring children have access to a warm, nutritious meal.
In less than a year, over 1,700 volunteers signed up to serve more than 35 families. Feeding the Fosters now serves dinner for 255 people each night. Samantha has coordinated support from local businesses, restaurants, and chefs, as well as an army of volunteers who have been eager to support her mission.
Samantha will utilize Stephen J. Brady Stop Hunger $5,000 grant award to her nonprofit, Feeding the Fosters, to help secure additional resources for a communal kitchen where chefs and dieticians can prepare nutritious meals and educate about healthy eating.
Akshara Shankar, Rising College Freshman / Holliston, MA
While volunteering at her local food pantry, Akshara noticed a surplus of some food items, while others were always quickly taken. She also observed how allergy sufferers struggled to find appropriate and safe foods for creating healthy meals.
In 2017, she created an online platform called Many Hands Food Pantry to alleviate these specific difficulties for food pantries. Her initiative started with a local food pantry and expanded quickly across the state to over 23 pantries in months.
The online platform alerts registered users and donors to the food needs of the various food pantries in the community. The donors can either collect the necessary items or purchase the needed goods and deliver them to the community food pantry. With the rise in food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic, Akshara saw a ten-fold increase in demand for her services.
Akshara will utilize the Stephen J. Brady Stop Hunger $5,000 grant award to continue expanding and supporting the Many Hands Food Pantry platform.
Gabriel Silverman, Rising Ninth Grader / Johns Island, SC
Since he was five years of age, Gabe has been fighting hunger in his community. In 2013, he worked with his two brothers to create the nonprofit, I Heart Hungry Kids, to lead large-scale food drives to help fight food insecurity in their community.
Since 2013, they have provided more than 400,000 pounds of food for local organizations and have trained more than 5,000 young people and adults on how to lead food drives. In addition, Gabe has supported food drive efforts at more than 40 locations to help fight hunger across the Lowcountry Region of South Carolina.
While volunteering at these events, Gabe noticed a gap in the food offerings. Many families struggled to find foods that were acceptable and appropriate for their children. Gabe, therefore, became intentional about finding foods that kids would enjoy. His efforts led to the collection of 2,500 pounds of kid-friendly foods.
Gabe will utilize the Stephen J. Brady Stop Hunger $5,000 grant award to digitize and improve I Heart Hungry Kid’s training and technology systems to grow their efforts statewide.
Abigail Yoon, Rising College Freshman / Greenville, NC
Working as a summer camp counselor in 2017, Abigail saw first-hand how hunger, diabetes, and obesity are impacting underserved young people. As a result, she founded the Sustainable Hunger Initiative, a community program addressing the intersectionality of residential segregation, poverty, and related environmental and health disparities by providing education, community outreach, and access to healthy foods for families.
Abigail works to mentor, empower, and enable other youth to lead change by providing micro-funding, week-long virtual mentorship, leadership training, partnerships, and educational outreach opportunities. This program helps youth jump-start initiatives addressing poverty, a root cause of hunger, and its consequences on marginalized groups.
Since 2017, the Sustainable Hunger Initiative has engaged more than 17,500 young people, provided more than 45,000 pounds of nutritious food to food-insecure families, and partnered with 20 organizations to expand their efforts in North Carolina.
Abigail will utilize the Stephen J. Brady Stop Hunger $5,000 grant award to further support Love a Sea Turtle (LAST) and community gardening and sustainability initiatives.
Shirley Zhu, Rising College Freshman / Houston, TX
In 2017, while volunteering to rebuild after Hurricane Harvey devasted her community, Shirley witnessed a significant amount of food waste. She knew that many people lived in food deserts and decided to tackle this issue by rescuing unsold food and redistributing it to low-income families through her organization, Fresh Hub.
Shirley rallied her classmates and organized more than 19 food distribution events where they served more than 1,600 people and rescued 12,100 pounds of food in two years. To help raise awareness in her community, Shirley created an app to promote events and share nutritious recipes using rescued food.
She knew direct food aid was only one problem facing her community; they also needed resources to help them use the food. Therefore, she engaged local government agencies and health organizations to provide education and referral services to those attending her events.
Shirley will utilize the Stephen J. Brady Stop Hunger $5,000 grant award to further her nonprofit partnerships at Fresh Hub and expand nutritional programming.