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Bergen County Academies Students Fight Hunger With Service Project

Regina Yoo, Kaitlyn Hermansen and Marian Yalong (center) created a social media based campaign to fight hunger Photo Credit: Facebook
Regina Yoo receives a hug from SkillsUSA state officer and fellow Bergen County Academies student Hana Friedman Photo Credit: Facebook

HACKENSACK, N.J.– Three culinary students from Hackensack's Bergen County Academies are helping fight hunger through a social media based community service project as part of the school's SkillsUSA club .

Kaitlyn Hermansen of Mahwah, Marian Yalong of Fort Lee, and Regina Yoo of River Edge created #SayNo2Hunger and the Facebook page BCASkills No Hunger "because it involved three ideas we wanted to incorporate: culinary arts, local organizations, and social media," said Yalong, 18. "All three have a large part in our lives."

"We were looking for a project topic and we stumbled across the term 'food insecurity' and how it affects Bergen County," Hermansen, 16, told Daily Voice. "We wanted to spread more awareness about it because after some research, we found out some of our local food pantries were having problems [stocking shelves]."

The trio started the SkillsUSA gold medal-winning social media campaign "to reach as many people as possible," Hermansen added.

"It made it easy for us because a majority of our peers and target audience are actually the largest users of social media, as well as mobile phones that carry Facebook," Yalong, 18, told Daily Voice."

Through the campaign, Yoo met with Robert Unanue, the president of Goya, which donated 1,250 cans – or over 3,000 pounds – of beans. The girls personally transported and delivered the cans to the Center for Food Action in Englewood.

The teens surpassed their goal of helping at least 1,000 Bergen families by reaching out to 3,052.

They held events, such as #GivingTuesday , where they collected soup cans at school.

In February, the team wrapped Valentine's Day gifts for Lord and Taylor customers, and collected donations for CFA.

"I truly learned how much it takes mentally and physically to organize and run a charity organization," Yoo, 16, told Daily Voice. "

Hermansen, Yalong and Yoo will compete at SkillsUSA's national competition in Kentucky in June.

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