William Winslow, 12, of Raleigh, N.C., a sixth-grader at Daniels Magnet Middle School, fights childhood hunger in his community by holding food drives to fill backpacks with weekend food for children who otherwise might go hungry, and by helping to build school gardens in neighborhoods where access to fresh food is limited. When William was in first grade, his school counselor told his class about the importance of Backpack Buddies, a program run by a local hunger relief agency for children from low-income homes. “I knew I wanted to do more to help kids in need,” said William.
So he got to work organizing a food drive, which has become an annual event. With the help of his family, William set up a website and posted a signup sheet for participants. He recruited 11 stores in the county to participate, organized 150 volunteers to work in pairs during the one-day event, and publicized it through fliers and posters. Each year his drive has collected more than $10,000 and 10,000 pounds of food to fill backpacks for classmates in need; since he started, he has collected approximately $40,000 and 40,000 pounds of food. When William learned that his community needed sustainable as well as emergency hunger relief, he applied for a grant to build a fruit and vegetable garden at a local school. Working with others in the food relief community, he helped develop a plan and recruited volunteers to help. Thus far, the group has built two school gardens in areas where there are no nearby grocery stores. “The children at the schools will learn how to grow their own food, how to prepare it, and what healthy eating is all about,” said William.