Lunches with Love – Barger Leadership Institute Student Voices

Lunches with Love

By Sierra Schneidt

I did not grow up with wealth in a monetary sense, but in other areas, I felt quite affluent.
For one, I remember having many family dinners. My mother was a cook, and she would make
grand meals out of few ingredients. Even a peanut butter and jelly sandwich tasted better when
she made it, because it was made with love. Now that I am older, family dinners happen less
often, and I can’t remember the last time my mother made me a peanut butter and jelly
sandwich. Still, I associate food with love and care, which is part of the reason I wanted to
contribute to the Food Gatherer’s Lunches with Love opportunity, along with fellow students
Shayna Lopatin and Zoё Bormet.

Hunger is an urgent and growing problem pervading the United States and our local
communities. Impacting nearly 44.2 million households nationwide and 53,670 Washtenaw
County residents, numerous families struggle to put food on the table, let alone enough and
adequate food to meet their basic needs (USDA, 2022; Feeding America, 2020). This issue is
also a pressing concern at the University of Michigan, with over 30% of students experiencing
food insecurity (Maize and Blue Cupboard, 2022). Food Gatherers is a food bank and food
rescue program that helps to fight hunger where we live in multiple ways, including their
Lunches with Love opportunity, where they disperse brown bag lunches to children, families,
and individuals in need.

As a part of a class project addressing social disparities, Shayna, Zoe, and I were eager to
support Food Gatherers’s mission. We were fortunate to have the support of the Barger
Leadership Institute, who provided us with the resources necessary to make our project possible.
To emphasize community involvement, we hosted an event where students could gather, learn
about food insecurity, and decorate the brown bags of soon-to-be donated lunches. It was so fun
to see the way each student personalized their brown bag, from kind messages and doodles to
vivid drawings. Some students sat for hours, working on several bags or just perfecting one. It
was clear from the array of stickers and colors, a lot of care and attention was put into the brown
bags, which was exactly what we hoped for.

Following the event, we assembled the lunches with tuna pouches, crackers, applesauces,
and granola bars. In total, we assembled 140 brown bags and delivered these lunches to the Food
Gatherers’ warehouse. They welcomed the donations kindly, and it was wonderful to see our
campus community contribute to our larger community of Washtenaw County. In the future, I
hope that we are able to do more projects like this and offer love and care through food and

If you are reading this and are in need of food or want to learn more about food
insecurity, I encourage you to explore Food Gatherer’s website at There,
you can find plenty of helpful information.

lsa logoum logo