FeelGood About Eating Grilled Cheese
Led by two women, hundreds of college students turn a simple sandwich into a model for social change
Grilled cheese sandwiches are good things. Grilled cheese sandwiches that help end world hunger while also educating and inspiring college students—well, that's what you would call FeelGood things. And they're just what Kristin Walter and Talis Apud envisioned when they started a nonprofit organization by the same name that's taking college campuses by storm and turning hundreds of students into social entrepreneurs, all while raising over $1 million to eradicate hunger.
"FeelGood (online at feelgoodworld.org) was created in 2004 after hours of running together on the University of Texas-Austin crosscountry team," says Kristin. "Talis and I shared a passion to make the world a better place, and we made a commitment to team up to change it."
Their mission? Help the more than 1 billion people who aren't getting enough food by starting a movement with the power to sweep across the world.
"I began selling grilled cheese sandwiches on campus for donations," explains Kristin. "I gave all the money I raised to organizations with track records of working to end hunger." Within six months, she had raised over $10,000; and within a year, she and Talis had formed a student organization that was opening their peers' eyes to poverty and hunger.
"That's when Talis and I began talking about and planning how to leverage this social change model and turn it into a national organization," says Kristin.
After graduation, they wrote a business plan, and in 2005, FeelGood officially became a nonprofit. Spread entirely by word of mouth, FeelGood chapters began cropping up on college campuses across the country. There are now 24, each chapter generating thousands of dollars to eliminate hunger.
FeelGood equips every chapter with all the resources needed to start campus delis specializing in gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. The students work with locally sourced ingredients, keeping overhead low, and 100 percent of their revenue goes to carefully selected organizations—such as the Hunger Project and CHOICE Humanitarian— that are working to end chronic hunger by sustainable means. Funds to support the operations of the FeelGood organization come from fundraising done by Talis and Kristin.
"When we got started, Kristin and I worked with the resources we had between the two of us," Talis explains.
"We recruited a board of directors and raised $30,000 for the year. It was enough to host a conference, travel to recruit more people and create even more resources. Serendipity has always seemed to help us along the way. We've found the right board members, investors and students at the right time."
They've also continually asked themselves the right question—what is needed?—which has helped transform FeelGood into a nationwide movement closetohome Cooks who Care The Right Stuff Talis and Kristin, at left, serve up a combination of lunch and hope. They use locally sourced ingredients to produce a great sandwich, support local businesses and keep costs down in order to give more. with committed supporters.
"FeelGood is not only a nonprofit, it's also an accredited education program and restaurant model," says Talis. She and Kristin, along with their small, devoted staff, developed an online curriculum, complete with hands-on conferences and camps, that teaches students to be social entrepreneurs and global citizens. Their hope is that students in the program will graduate from college prepared to respond to the world's most pressing issues in practical and compassionate ways.
"We have to be humble and say this has evolved over time," Kristin says. "Our emphasis has been on partnership, not charity. We've built very intentional relationships with people. We took the simplicity of a grilled cheese sandwich and paired it with a complex program, and it's working."
Adds Talis, "There's a lot of collaborating and sharing of best practices within the organization and among the students that creates a cohesion across the country. FeelGood really believes these young people are the key to the future. We're here to serve them and work with them to co-create this organization."
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