Meet our winner! This charity founder gets $5,000 to take her nonprofit to the next level.

Maria Kelly AMOR Healing Kitchen
Courtesy of Leigh Hayward
| Credit: Courtesy of Leigh Hayward
first place ribbon
Credit: Illustration by Joel Holland

Our Feed It Forward contest—supporting grassroots food-focused charities—is back for a second year. The 2019 winning charity, AMOR Healing Kitchen, and its executive director, Maria Kelly, wowed us and then some: The nonprofit delivers plant-based meals prepared by teen volunteers to people undergoing or recovering from cancer treatments in Charleston, South Carolina. We chatted with Kelly about her organization, healthy eating, and how she plans to grow the AMOR community in the future.

What was the inspiration behind AMOR Healing Kitchen?

My mother, who lost her fight with colon cancer in 2010, was the one who instilled in me a love of cooking and healthy food. I learned at an early age that food connects us and heals us. I started AMOR based on the belief that getting back to the earth for our food will help cure so many of our chronic diseases. We have served over 1,300 meals to ailing community members.

What are your next steps?

Right now, we are focused on people facing a cancer diagnosis, but we would eventually expand to include other illnesses that can be treated with healthy eating habits. And we'll be coming out with an AMOR cookbook.

What advice would you love to get from Rachael Ray and her team?

How do you organize the time to get the immediate needs done while working toward the next goals? Also, I'd love advice on creating a cookbook that people want to buy!