Preteen Kenzie Hinson does not fly or shoot laser beams, but she’s a hero to many.
She’s making changes in Sampson County and several North Carolina communities by fighting hunger through her Make a Difference Food Pantry out of Goldsboro. And for her efforts, the preteen is being honored by Tyson Foods as its “Meals that Matter Hero.”
“It’s pretty cool,” Kenzie said.
The recognition from Tyson Foods will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, June 18, at Wayne Regional Agricultural Fairgrounds, Dudley. To celebrate the organization she created, the preteen is hosting a Father’s Day barbecue competition. She will be honored during the event, which features live music, inflatable play sets and the cook-off, judged by community leaders in Goldsboro. She will be participating with her dad, Micheal Hinson. The name of their group is Mad Grilling Team.
After learning about hunger problems affecting youths and senior citizens, she wanted to do something about it. According to the organization, 1 in 3 children and 1 in 5 elderly people in her community of Wayne County do not have enough to eat each day.
“It makes me feel really good,” Kenzie said.
It began out of a church fellowship hall in 2015 and serves more than 1,000 each month. Kenzie’s pantry helps hundreds of people in Sampson, Johnston and Wayne counties each week. As the founder and operator, she does not take the easy route by leaving work up to adults. Her parents are proud of her accomplishments and her generosity.
“We’re just overwhelmed by the amount of people she’s been able to serve,” said her mom, Paige Hinson.
When she began, the pantry served 30 people and was open once a month. In May, she served 1,184 needy individuals. Paige said 12-year-old’s reception from her clients is amazing. The pantry is open the second, third and fourth Thursdays each month from 5 to 6:30 p.m.
Some of the other work is delivering meals to seniors who can’t drive and operating a summer feeding program. The Salvation Army allowed her to use a mobile kitchen.
When Kenzie is not running the food pantry, the eighth-grader from Mount Olive enjoys clogging, golfing, horseback riding and swimming. In 2013, she earned the title for Spivey’s Corner Majestic Miss. She will stay busy with these activities in addition to purchasing the pantry’s current location and producing a garden to have fresh produce.
Kenzie is also campaigning for every school in Wayne County to have fresh produce to encourage nutrition. One school is joining the effort, she hopes to add more in the future. It’s one of many heroic things she continues to do.
“It’s an awesome opportunity that Tyson Foods has given her and we are just amazed at the outreach they have and the interest they’ve shown to Kenzie and her food pantry.”