January 07, 2011
The generosity of Knox College students is helping to feed Galesburg schoolchildren during their extended winter break this year.
Knox students have donated 1,576 "meal swipes" from their college meal plans to provide meals for schoolchildren through the Lunch Spot, a communitywide initiative. Each "meal swipe" translates into one sack lunch for a Galesburg School District 205 student.
The Lunch Spot program, which involves numerous sponsors and volunteers, is supplying lunches for children during the final two weeks of the 2010-2011 winter break. The school district scheduled the longer break as a cost-cutting move.
Contributions from Knox students will provide nearly all of the lunches for schoolchildren the week of Jan. 10-14.
"It's a phenomenal thing the students have done," said Rhonda Brady, executive director of the Knox County Area Project, a Lunch Spot sponsor. "The Knox lunch donation is huge for us."
"Knox students want to be a part of the community and help the community," she added.
Knox College students became involved with Lunch Spot when they learned that many Galesburg District 205 students who rely on free and reduced lunches wouldn't have access to those meals during the long winter break because school is closed.
The Alliance for Peaceful Action, a student group at Knox, and other students decided to lend a hand.
"We tried to figure out any way we could help with the resources we have here at Knox," said Alison Ehrhard, a senior from St. Louis, Missouri, and an APA officer.
During Knox's December break, they consulted with Knox Dining Services Director Helmut Mayer to come up with a plan. They also collaborated with Tianna Cervantez, Knox College's director of multicultural student advisement, to organize the Knox effort.
"APA wanted to get as many Knox students involved as possible because we're a part of the community, too, and should do everything we can to fight hunger here in Galesburg," said Rosie Worthen, shown in the above photo helping to load food. She is another APA officer and a senior from Helena, Montana.
The "meal swipe" donation drive attracted support from many Knox College students and student organizations, including Sigma Chi fraternity, Sigma Alpha Iota music fraternity, Amnesty International and Women of Influence. With each donation, funds that otherwise would have gone toward a Knox student's meal instead were used to purchase food for the Lunch Spot program.
"Some students donated 20 or 30 swipes," said Gabe Paz, a senior from Vallejo, California. "They really cared about the cause."
The final total of 1,576 "meal swipes" averages out to more than one meal from each Knox student. Enrollment is 1,407.
Knox students also volunteered to help assemble the Lunch Spot sack lunches, nutritious meals that include sandwiches, fruit, granola bars, cookies, and a drink.
"It makes me feel good -- doing something to help somebody else," said Blair Peters, a sophomore from Batavia, Illinois, who was putting together lunches on Friday morning.
In addition, Knox students organized a food drive, collecting non-perishable goods that are being distributed to Lunch Spot families to supply extra food during the weekend.
Founded in 1837, Knox is a national liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, with students from 45 states and 48 countries. Knox's "Old Main" is a National Historic Landmark and the only building remaining from the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates.