On March 5, junior Leann Luong presented before the Philadelphia City Council’s Committee on Children and Youth, sharing her ideas for combating hunger in the community.
Leann was invited by Philadelphia Councilwoman Blondell Brown’s office to present her research and her legislative recommendations at the committee’s Child Hunger Hearing, which aimed to examine the prevalence of child hunger in Philadelphia and evaluate the efficacy of existing programs addressing child hunger. Leann’s presentation was based on research she compiled as part of her personal interest project in Honors English, titled “Food for Thought,” which centers around her desire to produce tangible, real-world results that address the pervasive issue of food insecurity in the Philadelphia region.
At the Child Hunger Hearing, Leann shared her findings and ideas for combating hunger through partnerships with local restaurants and supermarkets. In her presentation, she discussed the opportunity for legislation that would provide protection for restaurants and grocery chains that donate excess food. “The fear of a lawsuit should be the last thing keeping food from a person who is hungry,” Leann stressed. She suggested that, similar to the model currently employed by France, food businesses should hold contracts with nonprofits or food banks to allow excess food to be distributed to those who need it.
At Agnes Irwin, personal interest projects offer students the chance to explore a passion, discover a new interest, or research solutions to a problem that they are passionate about, both inside and outside of the classroom. During the research process for her personal interest project, Leann contacted the assistant manager of a local Panera Bread franchise, who provided her with details and the best methods employed for food donation by a restaurant. She also received valuable feedback from the manager of the Ardmore Food Pantry, who offered a perspective from the “front lines” of addressing food insecurity — which Leann shared with the committee.
“I'm inspired by Leann's dedication to her research and desire to make a difference,” says Dan Slack, Upper School English teacher. “I was impressed by her courage and flexibility as she prepared to speak in what would be an intimidating setting for most of us. Personal interest projects are an adventure, and it's exciting to see Leann's project have an impact beyond our school.”