18-Year-Old Cookbook Author Is Donating Royalties․․․

Sahana Vij’s mother taught her how to cook French toast when she was five years old. They made soup and enchiladas together and volunteered at a Seattle shelter, serving and sharing meals with needy families…

“Food is a large, big, important way to communicate with people,” Vij, now an 18-year-old student at UC Irvine, tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “Food brings us together.”

Volunteering with her mother motivated Vij to begin cooking and share her meals with others.

Growing up in Redmond, Washington, Vij taught herself to bake and experimented with new recipes every week. “I’d always cook it for others,” she explains. “Food was my means of communicating with other people.”

Vij created her cookbook, “Bake Away,” while still in high school, and it will be available on October 26 at Target, Whole Foods, and Kroger’s…

Vij is donating her whole book earnings to the non-profit organization No Kid Hungry. No Kid Hungry provides ten meals for every dollar contributed.

“You should eat,” she says. “You must eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner in order to fuel your body, especially while learning.”

Vij intends to feed 700,000 children if her first printing run is successful.

“As many as possible,” says Sahana. “It feels like a requirement to me.”

She gave a copy of her book to Thomas Keller, chef of The French Laundry, for Father’s Day. On her website, he comments, “This young baker gives me hope for the future.”

Vij wants to use baking to transform the world. She aspires to acquire an MBA after college and create her own bakery, with a portion of the revenue going to No Kid Hungry.

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“I want to have an impact on the world,” she says. “I hope I can inspire others to keep producing, and I hope I can keep baking and sharing what I’ve done with others.”

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