Kelly Sawyer ’15 helped feed families with small children in Rockbridge County, Virginia this summer as part of her work with the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty at Washington and Lee (W&L) University.
“I really didn’t have much experience dealing with poverty before this,” she said. “It just blows my mind that there can be places with absolutely nothing.”
Kelly said she was surprised by food deserts, places where people have very few options for food, particularly affordable, healthy good.
A health promotion major from Sterling, Va., Kelly hopes to continue schooling to become a registered dietitian after she graduates from LC.
Kelly was a summer intern at the Shepherd Poverty program, which brought in college students from around the country for an opening conference, and then sent them back out across the country to help in poor areas.
Kelly didn’t have far to travel; she was based at the Campus Kitchen at W&L, part of a nationwide network of programs that recover and reuse food that would normally go to waste. She helped serve about 100 meals a day, and unlike many soup kitchens where clients come for help, Kelly also distributed the food. That’s how she met families in need.
“I think this internship has made me consider doing nonprofit work as well,” she said.
Kelly got involved in food security issues after become a member of the Bonner Leader Program at LC. “I like how it opens my eyes to these issues that I wouldn’t look into on my own,” she said.
She is also a Westover Honor scholar, and a member of PACE, a student health promotion organization. A runner herself, Kelly is assistant coach of Girls on the Run, a national exercise program that encourages girls to keep moving. Kelly coaches at Thomas Jefferson Elementary in nearby Forest, Va., and she also volunteers at Our Daily Bread, a soup kitchen in downtown Lynchburg.