12-year-old honored for starting food pantry

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GOLDSBORO — Tyson Foods and the city of Goldsboro publicly recognized 12-year-old resident Mackenzie “Kenzie” Hinson on Saturday for her efforts fighting hunger in the community.

Hinson, founder and operator of Goldsboro’s Make a Difference Food Pantry, is the second individual honored as a Tyson Foods Meals that Matter Hero – part of the company’s pledge to invest $50 million in cash and in-kind donations by 2020 to fight hunger, with a special focus on local initiatives.

“Running a food pantry is about more than just food,” Kenzie Hinson said. “It’s how you make people feel when they walk in the door. With this support from Tyson Foods, now I can make more people feel good, and I can’t say ‘thank you’ enough for that.”

In the short year since Hinson started the Make a Difference Food Pantry in a church fellowship hall, the operation has grown from serving 35 people to serving more than 1,000 people in Wayne, Sampson and Johnston counties each month. In addition to three monthly distributions at the pantry, Hinson also runs Backpack Buddy programs that provide afterschool meals to in-need students at four local schools, an effort she will extend to three additional schools in the fall.

“The impact the Make a Difference Food Pantry has had on this community in such a short time is incredible — regardless of the founder’s age. But what makes Kenzie so remarkable is that, at 12 years old, she is more passionate, knowledgeable and driven than many people three times her age,” said Sara Lilygren, executive vice president, corporate affairs at Tyson Foods, Inc. “People like Kenzie, who see opportunities rather than barriers, excite us. It’s our hope that Tyson Foods’ support of Kenzie will provide a lasting impact in the fight against hunger in this community for years to come.”

Hinson was honored as a Tyson Foods Meals that Matter Hero at the inaugural Father’s Day Weekend Barbecue Competition, a fundraiser for the Make a Difference Food Pantry.

She was presented with a $20,000 grant from Tyson Foods to cover operating expenses, as well as a commercial freezer to help her maintain choices for her clients — an element of the pantry she prides herself on.

“Kenzie is an amazing young woman,” said Larry Morris, senior manager, agency services, Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina. “As our youngest partner agency operator, we’re proud to be here today recognizing her hard work to establish the Make a Difference Food Pantry, which provides critical service to the entire community.”

Hinson was further recognized by District 5 City Council,am David Ham in a city proclamation establishing June 18 as Kenzie Hinson Meals that Matter Day in Goldsboro. In attendance were state Rep. John Bell, R-Wayne, pitmaster Ed Mitchell and many of Hinson’s supporters and volunteers.

To nominate a Meals that Matter Hero, visit http://www.tysonfoods.com/tellus.

Information for this story was provided by Tyson Foods.