March 2, 2021 By Allie Griffin
An 11-year-old girl from Jackson Heights formed an organization last year to help feed her neighbors in need.
Bella Solomon launched Little by Little with the help of her twin sister, with the aim of fighting food insecurity by supporting local food pantries in Queens and beyond.
The name “Little by Little” attests to both tackling the nearly insurmountable work of ending food insecurity “little by little” and the fact that “little” people are doing that work, Solomon said.
“We’re kind of little people helping people…and we’re taking it little steps at a time,” she told the Queens Post. “We’re going ‘little by little’ and that was the meaning behind the name.”
Solomon has organized bake sales, an art fundraiser and food drives through Little by Little. Last week, she launched a campaign to support local food pantries with donations of cans of beans, which has already surpassed its original 500-cans goal.
With the bean drive, Little by Little has asked people to donate cans of beans to their local food banks and then log the donation into the bean fundraiser google form to record it.
The idea behind the drive is to engage people to support neighbors in their own communities and educate others on the prevalence of food insecurity, Solomon said.
“We hope to help decrease food insecurity, especially in local neighborhoods where it’s a very big problem,” she said. “We also want to help people recognize how much of a problem this is and help out in their own communities.”
The can of beans campaign has already reached food banks in 11 cities and participants have donated nearly 800 cans.
“It feels very good to know that you helped someone somewhere, even if they’re not in your community,” Solomon said.
Solomon founded Little by Little along with her twin sister Nadia, with the help of a few of their classmates at Ella Baker School in Manhattan in January 2020.
The middle schoolers — who all live in Queens — saw that many people in their respective communities were struggling to put food on the table and decided to do something about it.
“We were noticing how quite a few people in our community, and the food banks, were needing a lot of help and we knew we could help,” Solomon said. “So we started doing food drives and bake sales.”
They stepped up their efforts shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic hit New York City, which exacerbated the existing food insecurity in Queens and other boroughs.
The organization recently raised $600 through an art fundraiser, Solomon said. Little by Little used half of those funds to buy bars of soap for the Lion’s Share Food Pantry at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Jackson Heights and the other half was donated to Neighbors Together, which provides food and social services to Brooklyn residents.
For an 11-year-old, it’s a lot of work to run an organization and coordinate fundraisers–on top of fifth-grade classwork and remote learning, Solomon admitted.
However, she said helping others through the work makes it all worth while. “It’s very fun,” she said.