Braden Lisowe, 12, of Benton, Arkansas, a sixth grader at Bryant Middle School, has provided more than 2,000 meals for clients of the Arkansas Food Bank by cooking and selling ready-to-eat meals out of his kitchen and donating the proceeds. “I’ve always been interested in cooking,” explained Braden. “I began cooking ready-to-eat meals for friends and family to raise money to go to camp, and quickly realized that I could use my new skills to help others.” He knew about the food bank from volunteering there with his mother and decided that feeding the hungry was something he could do.
Each week, Braden plans a meal with a main dish and two sides and solicits orders on a “Braden’s Bites” Facebook page managed by his mother. With as many as 10-12 orders a week, he shops for ingredients, prepares the meals in his home kitchen with help from his sister, and arranges delivery. In addition to the proceeds that he donates to the food bank, Braden donates a meal to someone in need for every five meals he sells. His meal sales have also enabled him to purchase 50 sleeping bags for people experiencing homelessness after severe flooding destroyed their encampment. He also has donated meals on Mother’s Day to mothers who have lost children, to veterans on Veterans Day, to people who are ill or recovering from surgery, to foster parents and first responders, and to others. “I’m really lucky that my family has never had to worry about where our next meal came from,” said Braden, “but being able to raise funds so that others don’t have to feels really good.”