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.
2023 Stop Hunger Stephen J. Brady Scholars videos are highlighted here.
Grace Callwood, We Cancerve Movement, Rising College Freshman, Abingdon, MD
Grace Callwood hardly remembers a time in her life when she wasn’t doing community service. When she was diagnosed with cancer at age 7, she founded We Cancerve Movement to bring happiness to homeless, sick and foster youth. When she was 12, she learned that some students go hungry during Thanksgiving and winter breaks, so she created Breakfast Bags Bonanza, which provides lunch-size bags containing breakfast and snack items to children at homeless shelters, transitional housing facilities and foster care group homes. In her role as founder, Grace applies for microgrants from local grocers, secures a location to host a stuffing party and recruits volunteers to deliver bags to recipient organizations. When she starts college in the fall, Grace plans to major in political science and minor in sociology and continue her lifelong work. “I want to become either a policymaker or policy advisor. I really enjoy being in a grassroots organization, but I want to be able to do the same work, just elevate it to a more widespread level. Being able to work in government and policy is a goal of mine, so I can make change on a larger scale and understand how the system works regarding disadvantaged or underrepresented communities,” she says.
Natalia de los Rios, Food Rescue U.S. – Virginia Beach, Rising College Freshman, Virginia Beach, VA
After seeing fresh, healthy food thrown away at her local supermarket, Natalia de los Rios was inspired to take action. She founded Food Rescue U.S. – Virginia Beach in 2020, where she coordinates and carries out food rescues and liaises with city leaders, health professionals, church clergy and school administrators to prevent food waste. To date, Natalia and her 170-plus volunteers have rescued and redistributed more than 2.5 million pounds of food and served over 1.7 million meals, forming partnerships with 28 food donors and more than 40 social service agencies including food pantries, senior centers and homeless shelters. During the pandemic, they distributed 84,000 pounds of food per week at public drive-thru locations. “Coming into contact with so many different people, trying to create change and being a part of the community has really opened my eyes to how deeply connected we really are,” Natalia says. “You realize that once you make that extra effort to do something outside of your normal circles, you meet so many people that inspire you, and that shifts your perspective.” Natalia is getting ready to start college in fall and she plans to go into policy work. “I see it as a way to ensure that the structure of our society is more sustainable for future generations,” she says.
Sydney Hankin, Securing Safe Food, Rising College Freshman, New York, NY
Sydney Hankin knows about food anxiety firsthand. She is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, sesame seeds, unbaked egg and broad beans. During the early days of the pandemic, Sydney joined the teen advisory board of FARE, a food allergy nonprofit, where she met another teen who started Securing Safe Food, a nonprofit that increases the accessibility of allergen-free food in food pantries. “I've always been passionate about food allergy advocacy, and especially accessibility,” Sydney says. “Combined with the effects of the pandemic, when you saw long lines in front of every food bank, we realized the need for more food support.” To date, Securing Safe Food, based in New York City, has worked with more than 100 suppliers that have donated allergy-friendly food to food pantries in 10 states. They have sent over 98,000 items, or 26,000 pounds of food, to partner pantries. Each donation is made in a facility free of at least one of the top nine food allergens recognized by the FDA. “What I’ve learned from this experience is that if you ask people to participate in things like this, they want to do it,” Sydney says. “There are all these gaps in society, and this is just one issue we’ve found in the world of food insecurity.”
Michelle Song, Community for Environmental Sustainability, Rising High School Senior, Greenville, NC
Michelle Song’s love for baking and gardening led her to volunteer at the Greenville Community Garden through the Love a Sea Turtle organization, which serves families experiencing food insecurity and raises awareness about environmental sustainability. She founded The Community for Environmental Sustainability (CFES), an initiative focused on environmental and nutrition education and donations of produce through hands-on service-learning opportunities.
To date, CFES has grown, harvested and donated 6,600 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to 2,600 families; baked pies for underrepresented community members; constructed gardens at two school sites; and mentored youth leaders to create, develop, implement and sustain innovative environmental sustainability projects. Their Seed Library project provides free seeds for the public. CFES has also raised more than $70,000 through grants, donations and fundraising campaigns. “Understanding that not everyone has the same access, means or support network to eat healthy and maintain an active lifestyle is disconcerting to me,” Michelle says. “I seek to impact change in my community and beyond by implementing nutrition education as a way to reduce hunger, along with environmental sustainability — key to helping climate change, protecting biodiversity of foods and reducing pollution.”
Charla Teves, Hawaii State Youth Commission Stop Hunger Initiative, Rising College Junior, Honolulu, HI
Charla Teves remembers the moment that began her advocacy work in fighting hunger. A local DJ in her home state of Hawaii was mocking a woman on air for growing up food-insecure and eating from a garbage can as a child. It was an eye-opening moment for the teen, leading her to organize a State Virtual End Hunger Summit in 2021, where she invited legislators, community leaders and young people to discuss tangible solutions and simultaneously ran a food drive, collecting 1,100 pounds of food. In 2022, she testified at the State Capitol to allocate $2 million to Hawaii food banks, funding that benefited more than 5,000 individuals over the course of the year. Charla also helped organize a site visit to a homeless encampment in Waianae, Hawaii, with the members of the State Youth Commission. Now a sophomore at Barnard College in New York, she is majoring in political science, where she plans to continue her work in hunger-related issues. “Having enough to eat is a fundamental thing that everyone should have. I am fortunate enough to be in a position where I can help give back. If I have the power to do something about it, I will,” Charla says.