For Immediate Release
American University Student Wins National Award for Philanthropy
Maria Rose Belding is a 2015 L’Oréal Paris Women of Worth Honoree
Washington, DC: Each year the United States throws away 133 billion pounds of food while one in six citizens go hungry. Maria Rose Belding, an American University sophomore, was only 15 years old when she first came up with an idea to change that. Now, five years later, her idea has grown into an award-winning nonprofit with users in 21 states that represent over 2000 partner agencies. Today she adds another award to her already impressive list of accolades after L’Oréal Paris named 20-year-old Belding their youngest 2015 Women of Worth Honoree.
Belding’s non-profit, MEANS Database (Matching Excess And Need for Stability), is a website that maps out excess food and links those who have too much with those who serve the hungry. All an organization needs is an email address and an internet connection. Food shelves or donors simply type in where they are, what they have and when it goes bad. The website does the rest, and any emergency feeding system can search and see if what they need is available for free nearby.
At 15, Belding was volunteering at a local food shelf when she found herself throwing out most of a bulk donation from a local grocery because of a short expiration date and an inability to effectively communicate with nearby emergency feeding systems on a short deadline. Belding’s solution was to use 21st-century technology to help food shelves connect with each other and local donors quickly and easily. This allows them to notify others en masse of food that is about to expire and instantly find local food shelves that need those items. In the summer of 2014, Belding met Grant Nelson, an avid programmer, and the MEANS Database was born.
L’Oréal received more than 6,000 nominations for this year’s awards, and only 10 women were selected. L’Oréal Paris supports these inspiring women through grants and by raising awareness for their causes. As a recipient, Maria Rose and the nonprofit she co-founded, MEANS, have been awarded $10,000! This amazing recognition and grant will help their work tremendously. They also have the opportunity to win an additional $25,000 through online voting. To vote, simply visit bit.ly/voteformeans.
About MEANS Database: MEANS Database is a nonprofit that uses 21st-century technology to help food pantries connect with each other and local donors – diverting food from landfills and into the hands of those who need it. Visit bit.ly/meanspresspack for photos and logos available for media use.