Students Fight to End World Hunger, One Grilled Cheese At a Time

As Felix Adler proclaimed, “to care for anyone else enough to make their problems one’s own, is ever the beginning of one’s real ethical development.” The leaders of UVM Feel Good, Seniors, President Steven Balduino, Vice President Chris Dunham, Fundraising Chair Sarah Johnson and Juniors Treasurer Taryn Ross and Deli Manager Leah Eide, take Adler’s words to heart and are taking on the hunger problems of the world, with the goal of “ending world hunger, one grilled cheese at a time.”

You may remember these philanthropists from their UVM debut at Spring Fest 2005, when they were peddling grilled cheese outside of the gym. For a small donation to the Hunger Project you got a delicious gourmet grilled cheese with pretty much whatever you could possibly desire grilled with it. All profits are donated to the Hunger Project, making the situation ideal for the consumer.

The Hunger Project is, as described on the Feel Good website, “a strategic organization and global movement committed to the sustainable end of world hunger.” Their highest priority is to empower women because they feel that “women bear the primary responsibility for family health, education and nutrition – yet by tradition, culture and law they are denied the means, information and freedom of action to fulfill this responsibility.

Feel Good began at the University of Texas with a “bunch of passionate cross country runners and friends who had decided it was time to stop fooling around.”

A founder recalled, “The statisticians that we were, we realized that given our college education, cars, computers, access to the Internet, and daily servings of Ramen noodles, we were better off than 99.95% of the world! Feeling guilty wasn’t going to feed any mouths. But becoming active in showing appreciation would.”

Needless to say, a small stand with a George Foreman grill at the University of Texas-Austin has grown in a nationwide effort, with affiliates at not only the University of Vermont but also Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania.

UVM Feel Good was the second school to build a kiosk and the first school to have two locations. Their new location is directly below Cook Commons and it offers a gourmet and charitable alternative to the Round Room and Cook from 11:00am-2:00pm on Fridays.

Thanks to their very generous sponsors, Klingers, who donated 45 loaves of bread, Shelburne Farms, who donated all the used cheese, City Market who donated 50 pounds of vegetables including tomatoes, onions, peppers and mushrooms, as well as the UPS store, who allowed them free copying of fliers and posters.

UVM Feel Good has also received munificent support from other University organizations. The Department of Student Life with a great deal of encouragement and hard work from Sarah Provencher, has made it possible for them to accept CatScratch at their stand in Billings while the UVM program board has donated 250 dollars for them to serve the gourmet grilled cheeses at this week’s highly anticipated Billings Bedlam on January 27.

Look for the outside kiosk in heavy student traffic areas, like in front of the famed catamount by the bookstore. Last semester they used their outside stand twice-“it was freezing” – and they also fundraised at the Ski and Snowboard evening presentation of “Falling Forward.”

Despite the cold, lack of funding from SGA and only shaky leadership, they managed to raise over 500 dollars for the Hunger Project. This semester the goals are higher and they anticipate to raise 8,000 dollars, presenting a budget to SGA for funding and establishing leadership for the years to come.

Currently the club has “20 dedicated members and 84 people who have shown interest on the listserv,” says Balduino. They are well on their way to becoming a favorite campus institution. Be sure to check them out at Billings Bedlam and be on the lookout for a raffle in February and other outdoor events as the weather warms.