SFHS Students Raise Awareness for Eating Disorders through “Nourish to Flourish” Campaign

HOSA students promote healthy eating and help educate students about eating disorders.
South Forsyth High Schools HOSA Students at a Bake Sale for their campaign to raise awareness for eating disorders. Through the support of their community, the students were able to raise money for NEDA.
South Forsyth High School’s HOSA Students at a Bake Sale for their campaign to raise awareness for eating disorders. Through the support of their community, the students were able to raise money for NEDA.
Diya Maheshwari

Scrolling through social media, you’ll see things ranging from your best friend’s cutest pictures to a celebrity’s lunch and your favorite artist’s album announcement, but five South Forsyth High School students took to their social media to raise awareness for a rising problem within teenagers: eating disorders. 

Nourish to Flourish

Each year, members of the Health Occupations Students of America Club (HOSA), get a chance to raise awareness and take action against issues that they see impact their community. Students Akshaaya Dhandapani, Ishan Mahajan, Sadana Gangaraj,  Bhavith Vantaru and Kush Patel started a campaign called “Nourish to Flourish,” to raise awareness about eating disorders. 

“We are trying to increase awareness of the different risks and factors that relate to eating disorders,” Patel said. “Increasing awareness will allow us to help prevent them in our community and hopefully save someone.” 

Body image issues and dysmorphia are things that many high school students know all too well, and the growth of social media doesn’t necessarily help–with the constant pictures of “perfect” bodies and “influencers” trying to promote the latest fad by deeming it “healthy eating.” 

Nourish to Flourish decided to use social media as a way to raise awareness and remind followers about the truth about eating disorders. 

Why Take a Stand?

“With media influence shifting the way people view themselves and insecurities, we wanted our campaign to be a positive facet of social media,” Dhandapani said. “We wanted to create a safe space in our school.” 

According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), around 28.8 million Americans will suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their life. Anorexia has the highest mortality rate out of any mental illness, making eating disorders an extremely dangerous illness. 

“People with eating disorders die every 52 minutes, which is why people need to be more aware, and even the [average] age of onset of eating disorders is lowering to below 10 [years old], making it more dangerous,” Patel said.

Fueled by this passion, Nourish to Flourish set out to help students within their community. In addition to daily posts on social media and presentations to other clubs at South, they chose to host a bake sale to raise money for the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA). 

NEDA (National Eating Disorder Association) is a great resource for anyone struggling with eating disorders or wanting to know more about eating disorder or anything related to it. They have different helplines, articles, and many other resources that should be used if you think you have an ed or know someone who has one and want to help them out.

— Sadana Gangaraj

Creating Change, One Bake Sale at a Time

“Many of our friends and community members came and supported our cause to raise money for NEDA,” Mahajan said.

Although successful, their campaign did not come without its challenges. 

“It was difficult to prepare because we didn’t know how many people would come and how many things we would need to make. Additionally, the weather was not meant for a bake sale, so we were hesitant if people would show up. However, people attended and the bake sale was a success,” Mahajan said. 

More than a Campaign 

Sadana Gangaraj and Akshaaya Dhandapani are baking cookies and other treats for their NEDA bake sale. (Ishan Mahajan)

Even though the campaign was made to raise awareness among others, it helped some members with their own experiences with their body image. 

“Growing up, I often found myself feeling out of place, especially as an athlete, constantly being in environments like locker rooms where physical appearances are very emphasized,” Vantaru said. “I struggled with insecurities about my body, and constantly compared myself to others.” 

Recognizing their body’s incredible potential, rather than judging it by a single metric of weight, helped Vantaru move past these potentially damaging thought patterns.

“It was through my process of accepting myself and learning to love my body for what it is capable of, rather than how it compares to others, that I realized the importance of spreading awareness about eating disorders and body positivity,” Vantaru said. “This campaign is a project that is striving to create a supportive community where everyone feels accepted, promoting healthy habits, and changing the narrative about eating disorders.” 

Bhavith Vantaru helping promote Nourish to Flourish at the Collections. (Kush Patel)

With each Nourish to Flourish post, someone is reading them, feeling better about themselves and educating themselves on the truth about eating disorders. 

“We have all felt like we are not the best looking and felt out of place, but food is not something we should use as a weapon to our body,” Mahajan said. “It is something that should make us happy and comfortable with our own skin.”

Go follow @nourishtoflourish.hosa on Instagram and Tiktok to learn more about their campaign, and don’t miss out on their rush week!

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About the Contributor
Diya Maheshwari, Lead Copy Editor
Diya Maheshwari is a Junior at South Forsyth High School, and this is her second year writing for The Bird Feed and her first as Lead Copy Editor. Diya is a classically trained pianist who loves to create, play, and listen to music. Her favorite musical artists include Taylor Swift, Gracie Abrams, and The Neighborhood! When she's not playing piano, you can find her curled up with a good book or swimming laps for South Forsyth High’s swim team. She is also a part of South’s IB program, and cannot wait to learn and experience new things. Diya loves to learn and some of her favorite subjects include literature and science. Currently, she wants to pursue a career in biological research. Her goals for this year are to write more articles about things that she is passionate about! You can reach out to her via Twitter or email ([email protected]).