Student’s PB&J Project Feeds Hungry Kids and Earns Her a Scholarship

A project she started as a child just earned her a scholarship.

Lauryn Hinckley ’22 was one of five in the U.S. named a 2019 Stephen J. Brady Stop Hunger Scholar.

The Stephen J. Brady Stop Hunger Scholarship program recognizes student innovation and youth-led solutions to fight hunger in America. It’s awarded to students ages 5 to 25 who are “creating awareness and mobilizing peers in their communities to be catalysts for change.” 

The number of kids in North Dakota that go hungry inspired Hinckley to be a voice for them.

“When I was 9, I started PB&J Drives to help sustain weekend meals for the Backpack Program, which provides meals on weekends to students who live in food insecure households in the Bismarck/Mandan area,” said Hinckley.

She later expanded her efforts to statewide drives in North Dakota through 4-H, educating and recruiting youth volunteers along the way. She has also sent resources to schools to implement food pantries.

“I’ve sent aid to peers across the states and one peer in Ireland,” she added. 

At the awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., Hinckley was awarded $5,000 toward her charity of choice – the MSA United Way in Bismarck, N.D. – and $5,000 toward her education.

More than 1,000 people attended the event including CEOs from 15 Fortune 500 companies. Hinckley spoke at the event which doubled as a benefit raising $1 million for hunger in the U.S. 

The scholarship is offered by the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation, “a not-for-profit organization with a mission to ensure every U.S. child has access to enough food to enable them to lead a healthy, productive life.” The scholarship is named for the foundation’s founder and former president, Steve Brady, who was “an unstoppable champion in the fight to end hunger.”

Since the program’s inception in 2007, Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation has awarded close to $800,000 in grants and scholarships, and more than $29 million has gone to alleviate child hunger. 

Hinckley’s program continues in the Bismarck area and has been turned into a curriculum for a leadership class at Century High School to sustain her efforts. She also continues to get more high schools in the state to sustain food pantries for their students. 

“I raised more than 33,000 pounds of peanut butter and jelly along with many monetary donations,” Hinckley said. “My total 10-year contribution through my nonprofit has raised over $110,000 locally.”

Hinckley continues to do the work because students deserve to eat on the weekends.

“I was so honored to receive this scholarship as this was my third time applying for it,” she said. “With receiving this scholarship, I was able to educate more people about my efforts to eradicate hunger and to bring awareness to hunger in my state. One out of every five children should not be going hungry.”

Photo: Kates Fine Photography