Thanks to Nathan Schaffer, fewer Eau Claire kids will go hungry this summer. The economics and geography major is leading an effort to help more elementary-age kids access Feed My People Food Bank's Weekend Kids' Meals during the summer months when schools are not in session. Schaffer stepped up after learning that the food bank sends meals home with more than 1,600 Eau Claire elementary school students every week during the school year, yet just 1,600 meals are distributed to kids during the entire summer. Schaffer and his team of Honors faculty and students developed a plan to make the weekend kids meals available at more locations in Eau Claire that attract kids during the summer, including playgrounds and the public library. Their plan also calls for free bus service to those sites so kids can easily get there. To bring their plan to life, Schaffer spent countless hours making calls and leading meetings to get buy-in from a variety of organizations, such as the bus company, the food bank, schools and the city. Schaffer, who will continue his volunteer work coordinating the summer program until he graduates, says the project gave him an opportunity to help solve a real community problem by using the creative thinking, problem-solving and communication skills he's developed through his classes - the same kinds of skills that he'll need to one day be successful in the fields of economic development or city planning. Nathan Schaffer is battling childhood hunger AND building professional skills, and that's pretty powerful.
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