‘It’s important for everyone to be a good human,’ Austin teen named TIME’s Kid of the Year finalist

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A 16-year-old from Austin is one of the finalist for TIME’s Kid of the Year.

TIME said Austin’s Ian McKenna was selected to be one of the five finalists for Kid of the Year out of 5,000 nominees between the ages of eight and 16 in the U.S.

TIME partnered with Nickelodeon to find the TIME’s first ever 2020 Kid of the Year. The five finalists will get to contribute to TIME, be a kids reporter for TIME for Kids and receive a cash prize.

McKenna uses his gardening skills to help fight hunger in the Austin area. In third grade, he built a community garden at his own Austin school to help his peers who were not getting enough food to eat at home. The garden was made with the help of equipment donations and other students helping in the garden.

“I learned that one in four kids at my school relied on school breakfast and lunch, and Austin went to bed hungry,” McKenna said.

Since then, Ian’s Giving Garden grew to five other Austin schools and in his own backyard. With the project, McKenna grew more than 20,000 pounds of organic produce (which can make almost 25,000 meals) that is given to families and food pantries.

Ian McKenna prepares food for families in need. (Courtesy: McKenna Family)

“It still just is amazing to see how much of an impact you really have on these families, how much you’ve really helped them,” he said.

When the pandemic hit, McKenna focused his efforts to make more than 100 meals each weekend to distribute to those who needed help finding a meal. He also does virtual cooking classes to teach others how to prepare the vegetables he provides. McKenna also has online gardening tutorials and a gardening hotline so others can learn how to grow their own garden.

“It’s important for everyone to be a good human, really make a good impact in their community,” McKenna said.

In 2017, McKenna held a hunger awareness dinner in south Austin with produce grown from his own garden.

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