Edison teen receives YMCA’s memorial scholarship award for founding organization that holds allergy-free food drives


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The YMCA of Metuchen, Edison, Woodbridge & South Amboy (MEWSA) awarded the Ryan Patterson Memorial Scholarship to Shreya Shivakumar of Edison.

The Ryan Patterson Memorial Scholarship was established several years ago in honor of late 27-year-old Metuchen Branch YMCA swim coach and mentor, Ryan Marie Patterson.

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The recipient must strive for excellence in academics, sports or the arts. In addition, they must demonstrate that they have made an impact in their community through volunteer work, a service project or other means, live by the golden rule, have influenced others in a positive way and advocated for others who are less fortunate, according to information provided by the YMCA.

The scholarship award is $2,000, which can be used to fund the recipient’s higher education cost.

Shreya is a student at John P. Stevens High School, where she received the AP Scholar with Distinction medal and earned the NJ Seal of Bi-literacy in Spanish and English, according to the statement. 

She is president of her school’s Spanish Honor Society and is part of their mock trial team. 

To address a dire need for food insecurity for people with food allergies and no access or not being able to afford allergy-safe foods, Shreya founded Nourish America, a charitable organization that provides allergy-friendly food to people in need. 

She has hosted many allergy-friendly food drives, donating over 2,800 pounds of food to communities across the Tri-State Area and has hosted fundraisers which raised $7,000 for this cause, according to the statement. 

She began a partnership with Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), the world’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to food allergies. She joined the FARE Teen Advisory Group and became an anti-hunger and food allergy advocate. At the virtual FARE Living Teal Global Summit in October, Shreya received the inaugural Living Teal Spotlights Award for combating hunger within the food allergy community, according to the statement. 

As a Girl Scout ambassador, Shreya is educating local Girl Scout troops about food allergy safety and has hosted food allergy education webinars for 430 children in 16 U.S. states. 

She has also volunteered with the Refugee Assistance Partners (RAP) as an English, Math and Science tutor to refugee children and worked with the organization to provide food to hundreds of refugees affected by the pandemic, according to the statement.

Shreya will be attending Barnard College in the fall.

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