Food for Thought’s candy apple red insignia, pinned across billboards around Ithaca College’s campus, is a familiar sight for students. But many do not know the friendly face behind this increasingly popular advocacy group. Liz Stoltz, a junior Integrated Marketing Communications major, is the creator of Food for Thought and the reason Plumpy’nut has become such a recognizable name on campus. She is this week’s campus celebrity for her dedication to improving the lives of children worldwide suffering from malnutrition and inadequate education one packet of Plumpy’nut at a time!
HC: Why did you start Food for Thought on Ithaca College?
LS: Food for Thought was something that was started five years ago when I was in the very end of my sophomore year of high school in Newark, Pennsylvania. I really wanted to go on this mission trip at the time that the United Nations was organizing for youth and I found out about it through CosmoGirl Magazine…I don’t know why, but it really captured my attention, and it wasn’t really feasible at the time to go to Africa, but I was just really captivated by it and I really wanted to figure out ¾ even though I couldn’t go on a mission trip to Africa ¾ how I could still help. I felt like I locked myself in my room for days just searching and searching for something that caught my attention and that’s when I came across Plumpy’nut.
HC: What interested you about Plumpy’nut?
LS: I loved the name, I loved all of the wonderful things about Plumpy’nut— it was cheap, it was really effective. People were calling it Africa’s miracle food, and it was bringing these children back to life who were on the brink of death due to extreme malnutrition and it was really easy to distribute. I just felt like the list went on and on of why this was something that would be good to raise money for.
HC: How did you advocate for Plumpy’nut?
LS: I asked some high school friends to lend a hand and they were really excited about Plumpy’nut too, so we organized a walk. We raised, kind of unexpectedly, several thousand dollars and people were just writing checks to my mom and dad. So we thought we should make something more legitimate that we could have a designated place for people to send checks and that’s when Food for Thought came about. We expanded the mission and we thought we really like nutrition, but we want to do something with education too. We held book drives, hunger workshops and expanded our reach.
HC: How has Food for Thought fared at Ithaca College?
LS: This is our second year at Ithaca College as an established student organization. Food for Thought has just blossomed and that’s totally thanks to the support of the students and community, absolutely tremendous support.
HC: What events and fundraising has been done to advocate for Food for Thought?
LS: Our annual second walk was this year at Cass Park and we set a goal that in five years we wanted to raise $20,000 for Plumpy’nut and we did! We broke $4,500 as the total raised, which is I think three times what we made at last years walk.
HC: What is your favorite part of Food for Thought?
LS: We leave our E-board meetings and our general body meetings feeling more energized than when we came and I think that is so important. Everyone really feeds off of each other…I just like to sit back and watch everyone come up with amazing ideas like Rise up for Rice and a coat drive for orphanages in Russia. I like setting the foundation of Food for Thought and letting the members take the direction that it goes.
HC: How is the community involved in fundraising?
LS: I’m really excited by how involved it’s gotten us in the community, like having Purity Ice Cream donate 500 cupcakes for our upcoming sale and having International Food Network donate over $500 to the cause. November 1-8, Food for Thought will be joining She’s the First and having a cupcake sale and 100 percent of the proceeds from our cupcake sale are going to be donated to support one girl, but hopefully many more at the Shanti Bhavan school in India. The goal is to raise $1,600 (cost of a one-year scholarship), but we will support as many girls as we can.
HC: Will you continue your involvement with Food for Thought once you graduate?
LS: I feel Plumpy’nut is in my blood, it’s like Food for Thought is just so deeply engraved in so much that I do. Even right now I have a packet of Plumpy’nut in my pocket. I feel I will always be a Plumpy’nut advocate. Its so much fun, I absolutely love it and I love that other people on campus are getting excited about it too.
Photo credit: Deanna Dearo