CLEARWATER, Fla. – Laura Kopec, age 16, of Clearwater, Florida, has been named an honoree of the 2022 Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes.
Each year, the Barron Prize celebrates 25 inspiring young leaders – fifteen top winners and ten honorees – who have made a significant positive impact on people, their communities, and the environment.
This year’s Barron Prize honorees are an outstanding group of young heroes chosen from more than 500 applicants across the U.S. and Canada.
Laura co-founded Feeding the Fosters (FTF) to provide healthy, homemade dinners for foster families. Since 2019, her nonprofit has prepared nearly 40,000 individual meals with the help of more than 2,500 volunteers.
Related: Two Florida Sisters Make Meals a Mission, Helping Foster Kids Enjoy the Feeling of Family
FTF has raised over $300,000 through grants, donations, and fundraisers, allowing the group to purchase commercial refrigeration equipment and use a commercial kitchen, where volunteers gather to cook.
Raised in an Italian family that values shared meals, Laura and her sister began FTF by cooking dinner once a week for a nearby group foster home. Soon, friends were asking to help cook and other foster families were requesting meals. The sisters responded by registering with the Department of Agriculture and reaching out to local businesses for food surplus.
They now coordinate weekly donations from Einstein Bagels and Panera Bread and collaborate with other nonprofits to keep their grocery costs down and excess food out of landfills. Laura is currently helping draft state legislation in support of foster children.
“My heart is full knowing I’m making a change in the lives of the most vulnerable children,” says Laura. “I plan to continue advocating for positive changes in the foster care system.”
The Barron Prize was founded in 2001 by author T. A. Barron and named for his mother, Gloria Barron. Since then, the Prize has honored more than 500 young people who reflect the great diversity of America. All of them demonstrate heroic qualities like courage, compassion, and perseverance as they work to help their communities or protect the planet.
“Nothing is more inspiring than stories about heroic people who have truly made a difference to the world,” says T. A. Barron. “And we need our heroes today more than ever. Not celebrities, but heroes – people whose character can inspire us all. That is the purpose of the Barron Prize: to shine the spotlight on these amazing young people so that their stories will inspire others.”