“Stop Food Waste and Feed the Hungry”!
Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?
Eligibility: Date of Birth
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Virginia: Ashburn (20147)
Website or social media url(s) (optional):
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YouTube - NEST
Date You Started Your Project Started
I’m Esha Venkat, a freshman at Broad Hun High, & my sister, Shreyaa Venkat, is a senior at Broad Run. We started off our initial volunteering helping at schools, libraries, and community events. However, serving solo wasn’t our plan. We really wanted to get our friends and community involved, so we founded a 501©3 nonprofit NEST4US (2016) as a platform for giving back to the community in a multitude of ways. Our mission is to provide volunteer solutions to make the world better through kindness!
Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.
Scaling (expanding impact to many new places or in many new ways)
1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
As you might imagine, hunger is a problem that most often affects low-income families. Most people don't realize how much food they throw away every day, from uneaten leftovers to spoiled produce. About 95 percent of the food we discard ends up in landfills or combustion facilities. That’s why our main mission is to stop food waste and feed the hungry! The other issue we wanted to solve is the lack of inclusion and diversity in our community.
2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
NEST4US started with our passion to fight against homelessness and food disparity. Instead of seeing the food end up in landfills, we enjoy the happy, grateful faces of those whose lives we’re touching. By partnering with local shelters, reaching out to the local food banks and community through social media, and marshalling volunteers to serve food and put together care and hygiene packages, we nurture our community and volunteer team. Our “NEST Nurtures”, program increases awareness and action around food waste reduction, and rescues & redistributes safe edible food to those in need. To promote our mission, we have designed an app “Nestables,” intended for people who have excess food to donate, local shelters seeking food sponsors, and volunteers looking for service opportunities. We sponsor & serve meals at 13 local shelters. In addition to feeding, we celebrate shelter birthdays and special occasions with them by dropping off care packages. We believe food is too good to waste, so we have created a pledge to reduce food waste. In addition, we visit local community events to give presentations and host various kindness workshops to promote the importance of kindness & inclusion.
3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?
Providing service opportunities, maintaining an inclusive attitude, & passionately serving with generosity. That’s who we are! Last week, as we were driving back after serving, we approached a traffic light where a man held a sign— HUNGRY NEED FOOD. On instinct, I took out the food I had in case I got hungry. Without hesitation, I called to the man. He gasped in joy as I placed the food into his rugged hands. I knew he’d been through a lot & needed this food more than I did. As if reading my thoughts, he said, “Thank you for being kind enough to give me food, as I haven’t eaten anything in days. God bless you.” He nodded graciously & ran back over to his crate, stuffing his new treasure into a simple backpack. This is why I do what I do. It only takes 30 seconds to change someone’s entire day or even life, for the better. Our motto is, if you can’t feed a hundred, then just feed one.
4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”
We are dedicated to helping the hungry by rescuing and donating leftover food to homeless shelters. Every time we visit a shelter, we love hearing “Hey it’s NEST again back with yummy food”, & the happiness in their faces is priceless. We don’t just feed the homeless, we care for them by sitting down & hearing their stories, which gives them a sense of hope. Through our organization, we promote and encourage mutual respect & understanding between people of different socioeconomic groups!
5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.
We use social media platforms to effectively spread the message of selfless service, kindness, and giving back. Through our Sandwich Assembly & Blessing Bag Projects, we have a great turnout of volunteers who work hard to pack bags filled with food, toiletries & a note of encouragement! All our service projects are done by a team of volunteers with age groups ranging from 4 through 70. Our website, weekly emails, and newsletters act as a source of communication between our dedicated volunteers and community. We make it easy for our volunteers to sign up online for all our events using sign up genius links. In addition, we distribute NEST program flyers at various community events. Our community has been a great support by donating in-kind & monetary donations to benefit our causes. Through our programs we inspire people, especially younger generations, to step up and make a difference.
6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?
Because we’re a teen-led organization, youths in our community feel more inspired to get involved. As board members of various clubs, we provide opportunities for our peers. Through our projects, we emphasize the qualities necessary for success like leadership & teamwork. Service provides an altruistic identity for our volunteers & gives them more social awareness on how they can help those in need. Many may not know about the issues we look to solve before participating in our programs, but once they get involved, they’re truly see what a difference they make in the lives they touched.
7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?
We have grown from a small project to an impactful organization with over 450 volunteers. We have served over 12,000 homeless through NEST Nurtures. Our free tutoring program, NEST Tutors, impacts underprivileged kids in over 19 schools. Through our NEST Kares program, we donate school supplies for at-risk kids, make blessing bags for the homeless, & provide disaster relief. We packed over 1,000 care packages for Hurricane Florence victims. Through our book drives, we have donated 10,000+ books to underprivileged kids. We have also started a new chapter in MD this year.
We partner with Panera Bread’s Day-End Dough-Nation program. Each week, we collect unsold bakery products & distribute them to local shelters. We help with the “Feed a Student” program by packing over 600 grocery bags semi-annually for low-income families. In addition, we provide volunteer solutions for local nonprofits
8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?
*Touch more lives
*Receive funding & release our app “NESTABLES”
*Implement share tables at schools & new programs to support our community
*Start new chapters in other states & spread globally
*Grow our volunteer family
We want the youth to look at the world in a different way- a world where they aren’t the center. Community service provides a great pathway for this, yet many kids claim they don’t have enough time to volunteer. However, we believe that you don’t need to have time to volunteer, you should make the time to help others. Nothing is impossible, all you need is the passion & heart to give back. We want to be advocates for positive change by displaying a commitment to a welcoming, inclusive, & diverse environment.
9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?
10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?
Donations less than $100
Donations between $100-$1k
Donations between $1k-$5k
Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?
Asian (for example: Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Pakistani) (9)
How did you hear about this challenge?
Ashoka page or contact
Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka or T-Mobile, who was it?
Volunteen Nation Twitter