For his dedication and clocking over 200 hours of service to Foodshare, a regional food bank serving Hartford and Tolland Counties, Dhruv Suryadevara ’24, was selected as Connecticut’s top youth volunteer by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards for 2020. The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program is the United States’ largest youth recognition program based exclusively on volunteer community service.
Suryadevara started working with Foodshare when he was 12 and enjoyed the experience so he continued with his involvement with the organization. “I learned there’s a lot of people who struggle with food insecurity There’s a lot of people who work really hard to try to put food on the table but at the end of the day, they just don’t have enough money to be able to provide for their families. Foodshare really helps with that. They get donations; the volunteers like myself package the food, and then the volunteers deliver to the local food banks which help the needy,” he said. Suryadevara finds much satisfaction when he compiles a box filled with produce, bread, and meat, knowing that he is helping even just one family. In addition, to working at Foodshare, Suryadevara also has run local food drives in his neighborhood as well as worked in a community garden raising vegetables to send on to Foodshare.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines food insecurity as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. According to Feeding America, a nationwide non-profit, due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, more than 50 million people may experience food insecurity, including a potential 17 million children. Suyadevara’s interest in food insecurity is dovetailing what he is learning in his science classes where the students are developing composting materials. “I’m learning in Mr. Allerton’s science class that 40% of the food is wasted. That’s really mind-boggling. We don’t throw out a lot of stuff at home,” he said.
While Suryadevara was in middle school he submitted an application to the Prudential Spirit Award and was notified that he won the prize. He was awarded $1,000 and $2,500 earmarked for donation that he gave to Food Share as well as a trip to D.C., which was unfortunately canceled due to the pandemic. Instead, he attended a virtual event with the other prize winners.
Suryadevara will continue to work on serving the needy and bring awareness among youth on giving back to the community, especially during covid-19. “There has been an increase in the demand for FoodShare. I heard that a lot more people are relying on their services because of these tough times,” he said.