Three "Lancaster Changemakers" receive grants from the Giant Co. during the "Food for Thought" forum at the Ware Center on Wednesday, April 28, 2022. From left: Jessica Groves, manager of community impact, the Giant Co.; Zeshan Ismat; Hawa Lassanah; Shauna Yorty; Parag Shah, vice president of omnichannel merchandising, the Giant Co. (Photo: Tim Stuhldreher)
Three "Lancaster Changemakers" receive grants from the Giant Co. during the "Food for Thought" forum at the Ware Center on Wednesday, April 28, 2022. From left: Jessica Groves, manager of community impact, the Giant Co.; Zeshan Ismat; Hawa Lassanah; Shauna Yorty; Parag Shah, vice president of omnichannel merchandising, the Giant Co. (Photo: Tim Stuhldreher)

Three local women were honored Wednesday for their work building community, environmental awareness and local food security.

Hawa Lassanah, Shauna Yorty and Zeshan Ismat each received $3,000 from the Giant supermarket company during the Hourglass Foundation's Food for Thought forum.

"We want to show our continued investment in Lancaster County by contributing to the ongoing work of these grassroots changemakers," said Parag Shah, a Giant vice president.

Lassanah is the founder of DECA City Farms, whose projects include urban farming, a pay-what-you-want farm market and agricultural education.

Yorty is the community liaison for Garden in the Light, a community garden in the Southeast neighborhood of Lancaster; while Ismat is the founder of Blackbirds, which began as a service-oriented club for her daughter and her friends and has evolved into an all-ages organization promoting environmental equity around food, water, energy and waste disposal.

In a video shown at the forum, the women explained their projects and conveyed their passion and determination to make a difference.

When she's out working in the garden, sweaty and dirty, "I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be," Yorty said.

When you're doing something true to your heart, Ismat said, "people feel it and it's contagious."

"One of the best ways to create an effect in the world," Lassanah said, "is to work in the realm of your own story."

(Editor's note: This story was updated May 3 to embed the Changemakers video.)

Tim Stuhldreher