UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan (PIX11) — An Upper West Side teen is giving back to his community, helping feed thousands of people in the Bronx with his nonprofit.  

Steven Hoffen, now 14, was just 11 when he visited Israel with his family. While there with his parents and older brother, he was inspired by outreach efforts to feed families. Hoffen saw first hand how hydroponic gardens were used to feed families. Hydroponic gardens are special green spaces that require no soil and are perfect for urban farming.

Hoffen sprang into action back home, helping feed people in the Bronx in a creative and an innovative way. He started Growing Peace, a nonprofit. Hoffen created three hydroponic gardens: one in Tel Aviv, one in the Bronx, and one in Washington Heights.  

In the Bronx, there’s a garden at the Hope House, where there’s housing for formerly incarcerated women. The other New York City garden is in Washington Heights, inside a community center for low-income seniors.  

Hoffen says one of his biggest inspirations is Dr. Topeka Sam, who runs the Hope House and is CEO of the Ladies of Hope Ministries.  It’s a partnership to help from the heart.

The Hope House’s gardens grow up to 1,800 pounds of yearly produce and over 6,300 servings per year. Hoffen is far from done with his philanthropy.  He has plans to install hydroponic gardens in federal prisons next. 

Outside of his work with gardens, Hoffen goes to Riverdale Country School in the Bronx. His favorite classes are math, science, and Latin and his passion everyday is helping people in his community. He even directed and produced a documentary.