Sustainably solving global hunger, one grilled cheese at a time

FeelGood at U.Va. supports global charity organizations

FeelGood — a relatively new contracted independent organization on Grounds — is a chapter of an international non-profit organization that focuses on fighting global hunger and poverty by selling grilled cheese sandwiches on college campuses.

The money raised through hosting grilled cheese sandwich “delis” every other Sunday outside of Clemons Library goes toward the CIO’s four partner organizations — CHOICE Humanitarian, Water for People, The Hunger Project and Pachamama Alliance.

“All of our resources, the ingredients, grills, everything we use are donated,” third-year College student Naomi Gaba, FeelGood vice president of marketing, said. “So 100 percent of the money people spend to buy a sandwich goes straight to one of our four partner organizations.”

The ingredients necessary to make the sandwiches are donated by local Charlottesville businesses, including Albemarle Baking Company and Whole Foods. FeelGood has also partnered with other clubs on Grounds to raise awareness of the issues associated with global hunger.

For the past two years FeelGood has partnered with Project Peanut Butter and Green Grounds to host a dinner and discussion event called the Hunger Alliance. FeelGood caters the event, and invites students and professors to discuss why fighting global hunger is important.

“We have a presentation about the complexities of hunger,” FeelGood President Joy Otih, a fourth-year College student, said. “We invite different professors who have some type of academic connection to sustainability or hunger or global development.”

FeelGood has also teamed up with the CIO Challah for Hunger in the past, using donated challah for a special grilled cheese sandwich. A portion of the money made from selling those sandwiches went back to Challah for Hunger.

The organization’s members come up with themes for the delis and different flavors and types of sandwiches they sell, including savory ingredients such as caramelized onions and marinara and sweet flavors like marshmallow fluff and chocolate chips. The grilled cheeses range from $3 to $5, depending on the sandwich.

After closing the second floor of Clemons library this year, the CIO hosted a deli titled “In Loving Clemory” and sold sandwiches named after each floor of the library. The club is hoping to expand their locations for the delis, because less people are now able to study in Clemons.

“Last year we had a pretty good time drawing people in because so many people were going into Clemons, specifically for Clem 2,” second-year College student and executive team member Michelle Stacey said. “So we’ve seen a drop in the number of people that are coming to our delis because not as many people are going to Clem.”

While the sandwiches are a big part of their organization, Otih said FeelGood is focused on educating every person who purchases one.

“We make a very big effort to when people are order a sandwich or are thinking about ordering a sandwich, telling them what we do,” Gaba said.

Although the chapter of FeelGood at the University does not work directly with the people whom their partner organizations help, there is a sense of “dedication” within the CIO that Stacey described as her favorite part of the club.

“It’s really hard being a part of a charity that doesn’t get to actually be hands-on with as much of the work as we’re trying to see done,” Stacey said. “But, I really appreciate how enthusiastic and super excited everyone is by the fact that we’re working with Pachamama Alliance to get women in South America the safe birthing kits that they need and stuff like that.”

Since its creation in 2014, the CIO has expanded greatly in terms of number of members and amount of money raised. In their first year as an organization they raised around $600, and now they have a monetary goal of $3,200 for the year, which Otih said might increase. They also hope to have a higher percentage of first years join the club this year.

“We love to welcome new people into the club because we’re just so excited about what we’re doing,” Stacey said.

related stories