Freeman Junior Works Hard To End Hunger
The giving season is winding down, and the generous spirit that was contagious in the community is beginning to falter. Most people fail to realize that the holiday spirit fails to stock food banks and shelters in the summer and spring. Need is not seasonal, especially for students.
“A lot of students in our community get free and reduced lunches, and some don’t have anything to eat over the weekends and over long breaks,” said junior Grace Lu.
Surfing Pinterest one afternoon, Grace found her inspiration to tackle hunger in Richmond. “I saw this picture of a family who created a golf course in their house out of canned food and cereal boxes, and I thought I could do something similar,” said Grace.
Grace loved the idea of student created golf courses. “Students could build their own sites and come up with different themes and names for them,” said Grace
The courses could be built at any of the races and walks that take place in Richmond at all times of the year. “I was looking for a way to get students more involved in the community,” said Grace.
Grace’s non-profit, Mini Gold for Food, is officially registered with the state government, and it will soon be filling plates and stocking shelves across the United States. Her short term goal for the charity is to educate people in the community about the hunger issues at home. “Everyone talks about it, and no one really does anything for it. We all need to give time and energy in the community to become better together,” said Grace.
Grace says her biggest inspiration for the project is her father. “He is an inner-city school teacher. He tells me stories about how kids are hungry over the weekends. I never really knew how much it happened in Western Henrico,” said Grace.
To her teachers and friends, it is no surprise that Grace has taken on this serious issue. “Grace is an intensely empathetic young woman. It remains evident in her poetry writing. Poets are, by trade, empathetic people,” said Wiley Hunnicutt.
Her idea reaches across the nation. “I have reached out to my friends in New York and New Jersey to brainstorm events. I am about to branch out to North Carolina,” said Grace.
“I think it is great that she is talking to her friends around the world so that it will make a great impact. She is taking initiative, and I love that,” said Daoling Lu, Grace’s mother.
Her interest in taking on this world issue had roots even before she saw hunger’s effects at Freeman. Grace works downtown at Bainbridge food pantry and at Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services a few times a week. “I know a lot of the owners that have said they could pick up donations,” said Grace.
In October, Grace was accepted into the World Food Prize’s Global Youth Institute, where students from across the United States and other countries join together in contact with Nobel and World Food Prize Laureates and discuss food issues and their solutions.
“It was a community of like-minded people. I got to see what they do in their own communities, and I can contact them to help me as well,” said Grace of the World Food Prize experience. She hopes to go back as a group leader and attend a summer internship for research in China, Kenya, Tanzania, and Brazil.
Grace’s ambition is also evident in the classroom. “Grace’s drive stems from her family and is carried on in her own drive to make a difference and to excel,” said Mrs. Hunnicutt.
Grace’s upcoming plans include a unity walk for Henrico. “Everyone can bring a can in for admission,” said Grace. Having participated in many food drives, she knows what needs to be done in order effectively organize a charity event.
“Her passion and diligence towards this topic astounds me and makes me proud that she truly wants to help those who need it the most. Ever since she was little, she loved to help and care for others, and she has continued that trend through her charity,” said Mrs. Lu.
This experience with a non profit work has given Grace a head start in tackling real world issues. “I don’t want food to be a problem for anyone,” she said.