Bonner Scholars Program Wins Grant to Start Community Kitchen

The Lindsey Wilson College Bonner Scholars Program has won an online contest to help its members fund and operate a kitchen to serve the area's needy.

Lindsey Wilson learned Monday afternoon that it won an online contest held March 7-14 for a grant from the Campus Kitchens Project, a national organization that empowers student volunteers to fight hunger in their community. Lindsey Wilson will receive $6,000 to start a kitchen that will be housed at Columbia United Methodist Church.

The kitchen will begin serving two or three meals a week to area needy residents sometime in September, according to LWC Director of Civic Engagement Amy Thompson-Wells.

"Because of the wonderful support we received online, lives in Columbia-Adair County will be improved," Thompson-Wells said. "We tell our students that they can be change-makers in their community. This is just one more endeavor for them to bring about change in Columbia-Adair County by addressing food insecurity for many of our community's families.

"This program will allow us to address food insecurity issues with our elderly population, children and families who may not know where their next meal is coming from."

Thompson-Wells said that some of the food for the kitchen will come from LWC's Roberta D. Cranmer Dining & Conference Center, and the kitchen's volunteers will also prepare some of the meals.

[MORE: Click here to hear Amy-Thompson Wells talk about The Campus Kitchens grant contest on the March 11 A View from the Hill.]

The idea to compete for a Campus Kitchens grant came from LWC staff member Natalie Vickous, a Bonner Scholars alumna who now works as a coordinator in the LWC Bonner Scholars Program.

"Natalie did a wonderful job taking advantage of this opportunity and bringing it to fruition," Thompson-Wells said. "Our students have become very involved with food-justice issues, and this is something they are very passionate about."

Thompson-Wells said "there is food insecurity anywhere you look."

"For example, we notice it in the school systems when students come in Monday morning and they rush to the breakfast line because they are so hungry," Thompson-Wells said. "So we wanted to do something else to address hunger relief and make it student-empowered. Our students will make this their project, and they are excited about it."

Created in partnership with the Corella and Bertram F. Bonner Foundation of Princeton, N.J., the LWC Bonner Scholars Program aims to transform the lives of students and members, the life of their campuses, their local communities and the world through service and leadership. Each school year, LWC's more than six dozen Bonner Scholars donate more than 30,000 hours of community service to nonprofit groups in the region.

Founded in 2001, The Campus Kitchens Project utilizes unused food from dining halls, grocery stores, restaurants, and farmers' markets into meals that are delivered to local agencies serving those in need. Students develop entrepreneurial and leadership skills, along with a commitment to serve their community, that they will carry with them into their careers.

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