Girl’s hunger to help feeds thousands
You’re never too old or too young to make a difference in your community.
Mackenzie Hinson, 12, of Goldsboro, North Carolina, is proof.
At the age of 10, Hinson decided she wanted to open her own food pantry to help community members in need.
“It was actually a 4-H speech that got me started,” she says. “I volunteered at a couple other food pantries and I saw how they operated and I decided I wanted to start my own. I started in a church fellowship hall helping about 50 families a month. It went from 50 to 4,000 people a month. It’s grown tremendously.”
Make A Difference Food Pantry, which is set up like a grocery store, is open the second, third and fourth Thursdays of each month from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
How do you balance being a kid and running a food pantry?
Hinson has a flexible homeschool schedule and receives support from her parents and about 15 volunteers. Her efforts don’t go unnoticed. She was recently invited to Harry Connick Jr.’s show to celebrate her being a “Little #LeadingLady.”
As if the surprise of being on the “Harry” show wasn’t enough, Hinson received an additional surprise during her interview with him in front of an audience of kids. (Watch the video.)
Connick Jr. revealed that General Mills was donating $13,000 worth of food to Hinson – 1,500 boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios and 600 Nature Valley protein bars – to help offset her breakfast food costs. (Listen to her talk about the impact of the donation in this audio clip).
Hinson receives support from the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, which serves 34 counties and has more than 850 partner agencies like hers. Their efforts are on the front lines in numerous communities, fighting hunger every day.
The network, and Hinson’s food pantry, also are affiliated with Feeding America.
“We are always inspired by people like Kenzie who see the need in their community and roll up their sleeves to help,” says Nell Kolpin, director of corporate partnerships at Feeding America. “It will take all of us, working together, to end hunger which is why we are so grateful for our partnership with General Mills.”
General Mills has been a valuable partner to Feeding America and its network of 200 food banks for more than 35 years.
“We are incredibly thankful to the company for the way in which they seek out opportunities to elevate the issue of hunger and support our network and partner agencies, like Kenzie’s,” adds Kolpin.
Hinson says she hopes to inspire people to make a difference in their community. And she’s seen it first hand from people who’ve received help through her food pantry.
“They’re so grateful when they come in the door. And most of the people that come to the food pantry actually come back and volunteer,” she says. “They’ve said they’re giving back to the community because I’ve helped them and they’re going to try and help me back.”
What does Hinson think of being an inspiration to people of all ages?
“It’s actually pretty cool because it doesn’t matter how old you are, what race you are, what religion you are, you can always make a difference – one meal, one family at a time.”
Our mission at General Mills is to serve the world by making food people love. And we love how passionate Kenzie Hinson is about serving her community through accessible food.
To learn more about Make A Difference Food Pantry, visit MadPantry.org.
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