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Mobile food pantry wins award and fills stomachs

Green Street Academy STEM students develop innovative solution for food deserts 

For many of us, combining technology and nutrition means ordering takeout on an app. But students at Green Street Academy (GSA) have another other idea, and their recent award-winning project offers food for thought: 

GSA’s STEM students are regular participants in Samsung’s annual Solve for Tomorrow challenge, a $2 million national competition for public middle and high school students to consider how science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) can be used to create change in their communities. After finishing as state finalists in 2020, Green Street students reached the national finals in spring 2022 with a solar-powered mobile food pantry designed to make nutritional, fresh food available in food deserts - areas where it is hard to find good-quality food options.

The GSA students were inspired by the need for food pantries during the pandemic. Under the tutelage of their teacher, Harry F. Preston, the Director of the school’s Innovation Center, they embarked on the project through a dizzying array of technologies, including woodworking, fabrication, electrical engineering, app development and 3D modeling.

The project was personal for the students. Said GSA student Khalel Frasier, “When I heard about the food pantry, it brought joy to me because I was actually helping other people in the community.” And student Jaylin Liggins commented that “with this food pantry, it might actually help reduce the walk families have to have to get the fresh food they want.”

Preston added, “The students pushed the idea. There were four kids in the finals but at the inception it was an entire class - 35 kids. A lot of contributors were underclassmen.”

GSA’s mobile food pantry earned fifth place in the Samsung competition. The school received a $50,000 prize that will be applied to further outfitting the Innovation Center with more laptops, more 3D printers, more tools, and a Smartboard. 

The Elijah E. Cummings Innovation Center at Green Street Academy hosts a continuum of programming that inspires students to apply strengths, explore new opportunities, collaborate in teams, and set career goals.

Check out the media coverage of the mobile food pantry and the competition on WMAR-TV and watch Samsung’s feature video on YouTube.

Learn more about the Innovation Center here

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