Sometimes the realities of hunger in the United States can feel overwhelming. No Child Goes Hungry knows that even just one person can make a huge difference. That’s why we are proud to present Madelyn Harris and her story:
Madelyn’s commitment to reduce food insecurity in her community evolved from an independent research class she took in her junior year of high school. Her desire to make sure students and their families didn’t have to go hungry resulted in a food pantry that has donated thousands of meals and is still going strong thanks to her hard work and the dedication of others, including No Child Goes Hungry. The food pantry remains a lasting legacy of Madelyn’s time at her high school.
In her class, Madelyn researched the disparity of economic stability in her community.
“In particular I was thinking about the gap between the federal poverty line, which was $10,830 and the self-sufficiency line in Howard County which was $31,517 per adult.”
That lead her to research how much food insecurity affected her neighborhood. Not surprisingly, she discovered there was a real need for more food assistance. “My teacher suggested that I look into the feasibility of a food pantry at school.” This was exactly the kind of work Madelyn had envisioned doing at the beginning of the school year.
Madelyn first secured space in the school where she could store the food she collected. Then she contacted No Child Goes Hungry for assistance. “No Child Goes Hungry was so supportive of this project and did so much for me,” Madelyn said. NCGH provided both mentorship and encouragement as well a monetary grant to Madelyn so she could buy organizational supplies to manage the food donations, a much-needed tool in keeping a food pantry running efficiently.
She then worked with student groups at school to run food drives. Madelyn said the staff of her high school, in particular, have donated on a regular basis to make sure the pantry stays full. “A lot of the staff are really, really passionate about the students and taking care of the community.”
Madelyn worked with the Howard County Food Bank to become one of their partnering food pantries. Once a month, the pantry is open after school to provide assistance to people in the community. Additionally, guidance counselors at the school can access the pantry to provide emergency aid at any time if they become aware of a student in need. On average, the food pantry serves 125 people per month.
Even though Madelyn has graduated, she hasn’t moved away from tackling food insecurity. Last spring, she worked with a group on her campus to bring to light the fact that 20% of the population at the University of Maryland is food insecure, many of whom are staff and faculty. She and other students collected food and money on campus to create a food pantry to fill this need.
Now that Madelyn has transitioned to college, her sister is the Student Coordinator of the food pantry and is already thinking about who she wants to train to handle those duties after she graduates. “Hopefully it will continue for a long time,” Madelyn said. No Child Goes Hungry is so proud of the work Madelyn has done in her communities and the example she has set.
Kären Rasmussen, founder of No Child Goes Hungry, put it best: “The pantry that Madelyn created in her own high school just shows what one caring and compassionate person can do. Madelyn had the concept, worked with her school to establish the project, reached out to No Child Goes Hungry for funds and made it happen.”
Well done Madelyn! You are inspiration to us all. One kid and one meal at a time, we can make a difference.
Thank you to the many donors that help make programs like this happen! If you’d like to make a donation to No Child Goes Hungry to help feed more hungry kids, click here!