Best Projects 2019 features all the nominated entries submitted ‘Submit your Project’ category. All the entries consist of innovative projects run by existing enterprises in the form of businesses, NGOs or informal programs.
Nourish America: Giving Allergy-Friendly Foods to Families in Need
Explain your project in details:
Nourish America is an organization that provides gluten-free and allergy-friendly meals to families in need. Over two million Americans live in poverty with food allergies and/or Celiac disease. A study conducted in 2008 found that, on average, gluten-free products were 242% more expensive than regular products and that figure has only increased. We hold community food drives throughout the year to collect gluten-free, nut-free, and other free-from foods through collaborations with local organizations, schools, and businesses. Then, we donate each item to a food pantry that can distribute it to someone in need. After deciding to partner with a food bank, we determine which kinds of allergen-free foods are most needed via a survey. Then, we set up a shelf at the food pantry exclusively for allergen-free alternatives. This shelf, which we label Allergy-Friendly, is stocked with food free of common allergens which include eggs, wheat, milk, and peanuts. Popular substitutions include gluten-free pasta, gluten-free cereal, and sunflower seed butter. We also work with a certified allergy specialist to conduct workshops for children in elementary through high school to educate them about food allergy safety. These presentations will define what a food allergy is, how to identify a food allergy, and how to help peers who have food allergies. We cover how to read nutritional labels on food, how to use an EpiPen, and more serious effects of allergies, such as anaphylaxis, in terms that are understandable to children. Nourish America strongly believes in inclusivity and we are determined to make a change in the world by ending hunger for all.
Impact of your enterprise on sustainable development
Since its inception in December 2017, Nourish America has donated over 60 lb. of allergen-free food to local food banks. In June 2019, we held our annual benefit concert called Notes For Nourish. Youth musicians performed to raise hundreds of dollars at this fundraiser and we collected over 25 lb. of allergen-free food donations for our partner food pantries. In May 2019, we had guest writers contribute informative articles to our blog at nrshamerica.org to commemorate Food Allergy Awareness Week.
Sustainability and future plans
Nourish America plans to hold more allergen-free food drives in the future and aims to donate at least 100 lb of allergen-free food by next year. We are expanding our reach to new food banks so we can make allergy-friendly options available to more people in need. We are using social media sites such as Instagram to spread awareness about our mission. We are also educating the youth about food allergies through more interactive learning workshops in the coming years.
Your profile as an entrepreneur
Shreya Shivakumar is the founder and president of Nourish America, Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides allergy-friendly foods to families in need. Shreya sets the vision and strategy for Nourish America's long-term success. She works with members of the organization's executive board to carry out new projects and maximize its positive impact. After volunteering at her local food pantry for a year, Shreya learned that the food pantry did not have safe food options for children with food allergies. Supported by her friends and family with food allergies, she started Nourish America, Inc. to make allergen-free options available in food banks and end hunger in her community. Shreya is 16 years old and attends J.P. Stevens High School; she is a senior Girl Scout and actively participates in Mock Trial and Model United Nations. Shreya is a passionate advocate for reducing poverty and promoting human rights. She aspires to study international law and start her own law firm in the future.