Local News

Pre-teen starts pantry to feed Wayne County neighbors

Posted June 24, 2016 2:37 p.m. EDT
Updated June 24, 2016 6:34 p.m. EDT

— When she learned that nearly one in five people in Wayne County are uncertain about where their next meal is coming from, 12-year-old Kenzie Hinson decided to do her part to help solve that problem.

"I volunteered at a couple of other food banks, and I decided I wanted to start my own," Kenzie said.

The result is the bustling Make a Difference Food Pantry in Wayne County.

There, volunteers work hard, preparing to feed dinner to up to 300 people.

Kenzie started the Make a Difference Food Pantry when she was just 10 years old. It started small, serving about 35 people. She and a team of volunteers now serve about 1,200 people a month.

"When I'm having a bad day or something, they come in, give me a hug. I know everybody by name when they walk through the door," she said.

Kenzie's mother, Paige Hinson, said the food pantry was all her daughter's idea.

"We taught her to pay her blessings forward," Hinson said. "She picks things that are important to her, and this is what she chose."

Kenzie is getting some help to do this important work. Food Lion has donated thousands of meals over the past year, and, earlier this month, Tyson Foods surprised her with a commercial freezer to store food and a $20,000 check.

"We were all speechless," Kenzie said. "We were like, oh my gosh!"

The need in Wayne County is growing, and Kenzie says her food pantry will keep growing to serve those families. She wants it to be a bright spot in their lives.

"It's more than just food," she said. "It's how you make people feel when they walk through the door. You can stop hunger one meal, one family at a time."

Kenzie is hoping to raise enough money to buy land and start a sustainable farm so that Make a Difference can provide a steady supply of fresh produce for families.