Friday, May 30, 2014
Food rescue program fights hunger with help of OU alum
Written by Kelli M. Titus
Oakland University alumna Kari Woloszyk strives to alleviate hunger in Washtenaw County.
|School of Health Sciences alum found her 'appetite' in the food movement while working on research initiatives that focused on community nutrition.
“Build yourself up, but remember to always give back,” she said.
Woloszyk developed a passion for community service while obtaining her bachelor’s degree in wellness, health promotion and injury prevention (WHP) at OU. After graduating from the School of Health Sciences program in 2012, she continued her education at the University of Michigan, earning her master’s in public health with a focus on health behavior and education.
“The depth and breadth of my undergraduate course work at OU was easily comparable to a graduate program,” Woloszyk said. “I felt adequate enough to compete with my graduate school peers at a nationally recognized public health program.”
Engaging in nonprofit and community organizing efforts as a WHP student, Woloszyk found her 'appetite' in the food movement while working on research initiatives that focused on community nutrition.
“The WHP program was not only about gaining the skills and knowledge to create and implement change, but also about empowering communities through grassroots initiatives that focused on reciprocity,” she said. “The program concentrated on personal and professional development in a community context where you live, work and play.”
Woloszyk’s experiences at Oakland led to a position as community foods programs coordinator at Food Gatherers in Ann Arbor, Mich. This role allows her to interact with community partners to distribute food throughout Washtenaw County, as well as oversee and enhance local food programs such as the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP).
The SFSP provides food assistance for at-risk children during the summer months, when food is most scarce. Within the first month of working at Food Gatherers, Woloszyk was awarded one of two substantial Feeding America grants for this summer program. Her innovative concept to tie family meals, youth gardening and literacy programs with the SFSP has gained her national recognition.
Food Gatherers is a food rescue and food bank program serving Washtenaw County, and exists to alleviate hunger and eliminate its root causes in the community. They rescue and redistribute food that would otherwise go to waste from more than 300 local sources, including grocery stores, restaurants and food wholesalers. The non-profit organization has deep roots in the community, working with 150 agencies and programs to provide direct food assistance to low-income adults, seniors and children.
“Hunger doesn’t have a face,” Woloszyk said. “The faces of hunger are as broad as the faces of America, and it is our responsibility to advocate for hunger relief efforts in the community.”