Newtown High School seniors Sonya Stanczyk and Matt Baldino have been awarded the 2013 Student Hunger Action Hero Award, which recognizes those who have helped the Connecticut Food Bank.
Since the start of the 2012-13 school year, Newtown High School students, with the help of faculty and administration, have been putting time and energy into creating a program that has provided thousands of meals for area homeless shelters. The pilot program, called Feeding The Need, was the brainchild of Sonya, who is the director of the program. After completing a HOBY, a youth leadership organization service project that brought her in contact with The New Street Shelter in Danbury and its director Mike Finn, Sonya recognized there was a need for food for the homeless, and she set out to address the issue.
With the permission and blessing of NHS Principal Charles Dumais, Sonya sought out assistance from the school’s culinary department and its chef instructors Brian Neumeyer and Lori Hoagland. Sonya’s vision and the culinary department’s facilities and know-how were a great fit. After successfully providing a handful of meals to area shelters, it became clear that the partnership between the school and the homeless shelters offered enormous potential.
The next step was to get a reliable supplier of food products. The Connecticut Food Bank and Stop & Shop supermarkets located in Newtown, Southbury, and Monroe started providing food to the Feeding The Need program to process, cook, and then deliver to homeless shelters.
Last school year Matt was elected director of operations by his classmates. He was tasked with keeping track of incoming and outgoing food, assisting with menu planning, and acted as a liaison between the food providers and the culinary students.
In two letters from Jennifer Thomas, events and promotions coordinator for the Connecticut Food Bank, both Sonya and Matt were notified of their award.
All recipients of the Hunger Action Hero Awards were recognized during a brunch, held on September 22, at the Connecticut Food Bank’s East Haven Warehouse.
“Congratulations on your selection for this award,” the letter read, “that honors your exemplary support of our mission to provide nutritious food to Connecticut’s men, women, and children.”