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 $1M in grants and scholarships.
2022 Stop Hunger Stephen J. Brady Scholars videos are highlighted here.
Makenzie Greenwood, Hampstead’s Little Free Pantry, Rising Tenth Grader, Manchester, MD
Imagine a free pantry – open 24/7 and completely private – where people can pick up food whenever they’re in need. Where those with extra can drop off food anytime. This was Makenzie’s vision for Hampstead’s Little Free Pantry, a small, windowed room at the back of her church’s prayer chapel, where shelves are stocked with free food. “It’s unlocked, unstaffed, people can come when they need and take what they need,” she says.
Makenzie was only 9 when she presented the idea to her church, which handles the pantry’s nonprofit paperwork. Now 14, she has fed thousands, organized perishable food giveaways and used donations to purchase farmer’s market vouchers and create holiday meal boxes for families. In addition, she speaks at schools, libraries and other venues to youth about service projects. (She even inspired her little brother, who collects and shares kids’ used sports gear.)
The organization also provides matching grants to similar start-up pantries around the country. Makenzie says gratitude for having enough and living in a supportive community motivates her to help others. “I will never take food for granted. I’m just grateful I get to help.”
Shraman Kar, Foodle, Rising Eleventh Grader, Louisville, KY
Shraman’s inspiration for fighting hunger comes from experiencing abundance in his own life. He had just left a party where there was so much food that leftovers were tossed. On his way home, he saw homeless people on the street and thought… why should anyone be hungry when we have so much?
started collecting food with his friends for local food banks, then designed an app – Foodle – where those with food to donate could request a pick-up. Next, he invented a “smart” basket that senses when items are placed inside the basket, takes a picture, and posts the information on the app for those seeking food. When food is picked up, it disappears from the app. He is currently testing his baskets, with plans to manufacture more. “In the future, I want a food station, with rows and rows of baskets,” Shraman says. “I want to make donating food as easy as throwing it away.”
This ambitious, techy teen has also recruited impressive mentors and sponsors, and run artificial intelligence camps for like-minded youth fighting food insecurity. And he’s founded an online tutoring program for about 150 students. “My community is very supportive, and that encourages me,” he says.
Jacob Mansbach, Food Certainty, Rising College Freshman, Santa Barbara, CA
Jacob has found a way to combine two passions: helping food-insecure kids and engineering a system to tackle a complex problem. For 10 years, he’s been on a journey to feed more and more people – from volunteering with his parents at the Food Bank of Santa Barbara County to designing a system to help restaurants and grocery stores turn food waste into donations.
His program, FoodCertainty, uses computer vision to identify and categorize available food, and populate a database with its nutritional value data. The weight is then estimated, and nonprofits can access the data, “check out” and pick-up the food. Jacob and his brother have also organized Saturday Family Days at the food bank, educating volunteers on food insecurity and packing more than 600,000 pounds of food.
In addition, he’s raised about $125,000 in donations, buying one million meals, through organizing and competing in community triathlons. Jacob, who wants to study computer engineering, is all about continuing to develop his FoodCertainty program and introducing it to other cities. “I know that we can find support for new solutions,” he says, “because I have seen first-hand what a community will do when you give them the opportunity to help.”
Shreya Shivakumar, Nourish America, Rising College Sophomore, Edison, NJ
Shreya knows what it’s like to worry about food and to not have fresh, healthy meals. Her parents immigrated from India to New York when she was one, and she remembers their struggle to pay rent and buy groceries. Moved to help others, she began volunteering at food banks during high school. She learned those with allergies have fewer food choices, and that these health issues cause added stress for needy families.
In 2018, she started a nonprofit, Nourish America, to provide allergy-friendly and gluten-free products to food banks. She also focuses on organic, healthy and fresh food – often missing from donation centers. “We want to really nourish, not just feed,” she says. Nourish America has a board of five women, former high school classmates now at different colleges. That has led to chapters outside New Jersey – in New York, Ann Arbor and Atlanta.
Now, Nourish America has donated thousands of pounds of food and hosted successful fundraising concerts featuring youth musicians. Shreya, a freshman at Barnard College, has also tutored immigrant children and provided groceries to their families during the pandemic shutdown in 2020. “Being able to help families when they needed it most was very meaningful,” she says.
ZaNia Stinson, Z Feeds Angel Food Project, Rising Tenth Grader, Charlotte, NC
ZaNia was only 9 when a homeless mother of two, begging outside a grocery store, changed her life. “I was really confused,” ZaNia remembers. “How were they hungry outside a food store?” She asked her mom to help, and they gave the grateful woman $5. ZaNia’s idea for “go-go bags” was born.
Now 15, ZaNia has handed out gallon bags with toiletries, snacks, water and inspirational messages for years – on the street and in shelters. ZaNia feels for homeless people – as a child, she bounced in and out of shelters with her grandmother. At 5, she went to live full-time with a foster family who had cared for her, off and on, for years. Now officially adopted, she’s the pride of her family and community, which helps her pack and distribute bags. Dance team friends, church members – everyone is part of ZaNia’s mission to end hunger.
She has raised thousands for supplies and made the local news. But for ZaNia, it’s about seeing hungry people smile as they open their snacks. “It makes me feel happy to see what I’m doing is helping people. It’s made me want to do it more, to make a difference in the world.”