Grady College students enrich Athens-Clarke County Community

Update (October 28, 2015): Results from the 2014 Food to Kids program for Athens Clarke County have been released and there was a large increase in participation: 94,351 meals served in 2015 compared with 67,000 meals served in 2014. “I am bursting with pride,” said course instructor Myra Blackmon. “Their target was to increase the number of summer meals served by 25 percent. The actual increase was 41 percent! The mobile program these awesome young people designed clearly worked!”
In a true example of experiential learning, Grady College students are making a difference in the local community by having class projects used in real life. One student is applying graphic design skills for a local non-profit, while a group of Grady public relations students had their campaign materials selected to use for the Clarke County Seamless Summer food program.
Undergraduate Abbie Brans designed a poster that was selected to promote The West Broad Farmers Market. Located in the Athens Hancock Corridor, the market provides fresh, affordable produce and economic development opportunities for the community. Kristen Smith, a senior lecturer in the Grady College, is proud one of her Graphic Communications students was selected. 
“I’m happy for Abbie that her poster was chosen and that her work will be seen all around Athens,” Smith said.

The design Brans created will be used on materials promoting the market and she will receive recognition as a sponsor. 

Grady students will also have a big impact on the program providing lunches to Clarke County students this summer since their class campaign materials and designs were selected to promote the program.
Myra Blackmon’s public relations campaigns class last summer divided into two teams that were tasked with producing a campaign that would increase participation in summer food programs for children in Clarke County by 25 percent.
Megan Arnold (ABJ ’14) was in that class last summer.
“We had the ability to really help, to create a program that would have a substantial and lasting impact on the community and individual lives,” Arnold said.
Other teammates included Joseph Arnold, Alli Hogan, Sofia Jesani, Chandler Melton and Victoria Tidwell. 
The public relations plan proposed that school buses deliver lunches provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to well-populated locations for children in the summer. This summer the Seamless Summer Program will utilize two busses to provide nine mobile lunch sites around the community, providing hundreds of children with meals. The Arby’s Foundation and Share Our Strength via the No Kid Hungry Campaign have donated a $10,000 grant to ensure that this campaign will be executed.
“This is a classic example of community collaboration, where the impact is greater than simply the sum of the different efforts,” said Blackmon in an editorial she wrote about the program for the Athens Banner-Herald. “Our community is stronger when our children are healthy and well-fed. We are better able to serve those in need when we coordinate and share in the work.”
“Students didn’t study childhood hunger in the abstract, they actually talked with children who rely on the Seamless Summer Program for food,” Blackmon added. “They didn’t just read about how food is distributed, they went to schools and feeding sites where they talked with the “lunch ladies” and others who are involved daily in making this happen.  They gained a different perspective on poverty, the logistics of getting food to those who need it and how our community’s coalition of organizations comes together to address this crucial issue.”
Meals will be provided at no cost for all children one- through 18-years-old at Gaines Elementary School and Clarke Middle School June 1-July 24. 
“We are extremely excited about the 2015 Seamless Summer Feeding Program in Clarke County,” said Clarke County School District Nutrition Director, Paula Farmer.  “The Clarke County School District is partnering with community organizations in an effort to reach more children this summer.” 
According to Farmer, more than 80 percent of students enrolled in Clarke County’s public schools receive free or reduced-price lunches. The Seamless Summer program will ensure children have access to a nutritional lunch five days a week.
“These UGA students learned they can use their privilege not just to advance their own success, but to enhance the well-being of others,” Blackmon said. “They responded with energy, creativity, compassion and focus. I am honored to say that I was their teacher.”
Date: June 5, 2015
Author:  Zoe Brawner,