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American University student who co-founded food rescue database wins scholarship

22-year-old Maria Rose Belding recently shared the business plan in a competition for a $12,000 college scholarship. (ABC7)

A local real estate company is rewarding an area student for her entrepreneurial spirit. The recognition comes in the form of a college scholarship.

When Maria Rose Belding was in eighth grade she discovered a problem and wanted to do something. She explained to ABC7, "We throw away a third of our food supply in the United States. We have 46 million Americans relying on food pantries. We have a lot to do."

So, the American University senior and a friend co-founded a food rescue database called MEANS: Matching Excess and Need for Stability. "Basically we build the software that makes it possible for grocery stores, restaurants, caterers and other people who make food for a living to let soup kitchens and homeless shelters know when they have extra food that they'd like to give them," Belding said.

The 22-year-old recently shared the business plan in a competition for a $12,000 college scholarship. Thirty-two students applied for it, which was reduced to a pool of five. Each of those students had to present a business plan to a panel of judges.

John Kirk is the director of sales for The Kilner Group, which sponsored the scholarship. "When Maria came in and presented, she just wowed the judges. Talk about a top-notch presentation," Kirk said.

The judges were so impressed with Belding, they awarded her the first Kilner Group Young Entrepreneurs Scholarship. The aspiring physician is grateful.

"Just knowing that I'm going to be able to put a huge chunk into the debt when I graduate and I'm going to be able to take a medical sign language course, those are things that I would not have been able to afford to do by myself and it's so awesome to have this door open up for me," she said.

The Kilner Group hopes to double the scholarship next year and eventually have it cover four years of college.

To connect with Belding's food database, click here: meansdatabase.com.

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