In the fall of 2020, Carley Hitzelberger contacted No Child Goes Hungry with a simple, selfless request: funding for a high school meal pantry.
“I have created a weekend Backpack Program at my school,” said her simple plea. “I would use this funding to buy food for the students who don’t have it on the weekends.”
Unlike many individuals who reach out to No Child Goes Hungry for donations and support,
Hitzelberger is not a teacher, counselor, or concerned parent. She is a high school student at Wade Hampton High School in Greenville, SC advocating for hunger relief efforts for her peers—fellow students and their families who are less fortunate and might not know from where their next meal will come.
“As of 2017, at Wade Hampton, 37 percent of students were getting free or reduced-price lunch,” said Hitzelberger. “Thirty-one percent being free, and six percent reduced. I’m sure this number has risen since then, especially due to the pandemic.”
At the start of her campaign, Hitzelberger worked diligently advocating for school officials to provide a dedicated space where she could store food and supplies and make her bags available to students in need. Her wish was granted when the school’s JROTC team agreed to share a large closet. Next, Hitzelberger needed storage shelves. She reached out to No Child Goes Hungry for help and, in turn, received more than she could have realized she needed.
Kären Rasmussen, Founder, and Director of No Child Goes Hungry, responded to Hitzelberger’s humble request, sending two carts and offering mentorship to scale her offering. In addition, Rasmussen offered Hitzelberger critical guidance on free pantry logistics and even how to scale her initiative in a way that will make it sustainable for years to come.
Since Hitzelberger finalized her pantry with its donated shelves, its utilization has been consistently appreciated.
“We have an online signup form where students or families can place orders for the foods they would like, then they can pick up their order 24 to 48 hours after it’s been placed, from a cart in the front office of the school. We also started doing pre-packed Take me! meal bags. We started doing this so that if someone was in immediate need of food, they could just grab a bag, or if someone such as a parent didn’t know about the pantry and saw the “Take me!” bags, they could take one and find out about how to sign up for the foods they want from the flyers we put in the bags.”
Hitzelberger and her mother hope to further their philanthropic goals by creating a nonprofit entity that will continue to seek donations to support youth hunger advocacy, even after Hitzelberger graduates.
“Carley is a delight and an inspiration,” said Rasmussen. “I hope her story inspires other young people to realize that you can make a significant difference at any age.”
To learn how NCGH can help support your local hunger advocacy initiative, contact us today.