This High School Girl Is Helping Underprivileged Kids from Going Hungry—with Her Cell Phone

"It takes a community to feed a child."

Food for

The Food for Thought GoFundMe page.

On her first day tutoring students from low-income families at an after-school program in New York City, Alyssa Kapasi noticed how many kids were lining up for free sandwiches and fruit in the cafeteria. One of the coordinators explained that many of these students don’t get enough to eat at home, so a school lunch or an after-school meal might be the most food they would get all day.

Alyssa KapasiAlyssa Kapasi

The app’s high school mastermind, Alyssa Kapasi.

Kapasi, who attends private school, was shocked. What’s more, she was determined to help. “I want other kids to understand that if you see a problem, you don’t have to wait to be an adult to fix it,” says Kapasi. She and a group of friends are now putting their programming skills to work to create an app called Food for Thought, which will allow parents, students, and even kindhearted strangers to donate to a lunch account for a student in need at a nearby school.

Feeding America: By The NumbersIgor Kovalchuk/ShutterstockAbout 20 million American kids receive free lunches. Two million more qualify for reduced-price meals, and those students’ families have to pay for part of their food. When they don’t have the money on any given day, the students might have to settle for a meager—and humbling—“alternative meal” such as a cheese sandwich.

One ingenious feature of the app—which is being funded by grants from corporate and social investors, and a ­GoFundMe page—is that it provides anonymity to lunch recipients and donors. To receive financial help, a family will need only a recommendation from a school administrator, and no one else has to know.

“I want to make my platform an application that all users feel no shame in using,” says Kapasi. She hopes to test the app in a school district this fall. Next, read about these powerful ways to give to charity without breaking the bank.

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Ashley Lewis
Ashley is an Assistant Editor at Reader’s Digest. She received her Master’s Degree from CUNY Graduate School of Journalism in 2015. Before joining Reader’s Digest, she was a Jason Sheftell Fellow at the New York Daily News and interned at Seventeen and FOX News. When Ashley is not diligently fact-checking the magazine or writing for, she enjoys cooking (butternut squash pizza is her signature dish), binge-watching teen rom-coms on Netflix that she’s way too old for, and hiking (and falling down) mountains.