A Newark church pantry received a large amount of non-perishable groceries just in time for Thanksgiving thanks to the efforts of a Pennsylvania teenager and his family.

On Saturday, 14-year-old Arin Nakirikanti and father Kiran Nukiranti brought about £ 1,250 worth of groceries to Blue Hen Bounty, a University of Delaware student pantry located at St. Thomas’s Episcopal Church on South College Alley.

The donation was part of the Diwali Food Drive. Fundraising was raised during an event in Glenmoore, Pennsylvania called the Diwali Mela, where local families gathered to relax and eat to celebrate the Hindu Festival of Lights.

“It’s not about stopping hunger, it’s about stopping hunger growth,” said Nukiranti, a founding member of the initiative.

Diwali Food Drive volunteers have worked since 2012 to halt the growth of hunger in Pennsylvania, Delaware and beyond, donating more than 250,000 pounds of food to local food banks. They are currently working with organizations in Chester County, Pennsylvania, and are in the process of expanding nationwide through other food banks. The aim of the organization is “to help local people in need by providing food and hope during the celebration of the Indian festival of Diwali”.

There in St. Thomas on Saturday morning to receive the donation were members of the Church and the Episcopal Campus Ministry, a registered student organization at the UD.

The donations will help store the Blue Hen Bounty pantry, which was established in 2016 by the Episcopal Campus Ministry to help students in need of groceries and basic toiletries.

“We have this great room,” said councilor Cara Hartman. “We have to offer it to the community.”

Blue Hen Bounty is available to any UD student in need.

“All you need is a student ID,” said Denise Burgher, parish church member and graduate of the ECM.

UD wasn’t the only school to receive donations from the Diwali Food Drive. Nukiranti said Rutgers received the same amount of food this year and another sizeable donation will go to West Chester University’s pantry.

Diwali Food Drive is about to become a nationwide initiative. The slogan “driveway to nationwide” reflects the history of the Food Drive, which began in a single driveway with a small number of families. Diwali Food Drive is now working with university pantries all the way to the west coast.

“We want to make it worldwide,” said Nakirikanti, reflecting the ambition of his family.

With volunteers in several states donating to local food pantries, the organization’s motto is “Help for Local People in Need”. Diwali Food Drive currently has members donating to pantries in Pennsylvania, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, and Washington.