A $1,000,000 endowment to promote student opportunities in food studies was created in 2015, with funds arising from the UK – Aramark agreement.  The income of  this endowment is administered by the Food Connection and currently supports the Student Opportunity Grants program.  Projects require direct participation of graduate or undergraduate UK students with leadership by faculty or professional staff.  Student engagement beyond the campus is also a positive factor in proposal evaluation.


Proposals are submitted from across the University and are reviewed in a competitive process.   For the 2015-16 academic year, twelve projects were submitted from 8 different departments or centers.  At this time, 8 of those have been completed. http://foodconnection.ca.uky.edu/content/student-opportunity-grants  


Our second round of Student Opportunity Grants for 2016-17 was recently completed and awards announced:

  • 22 proposals were received, requesting a total of $154,106
  • 8 projects have been funded for $40,200, these are listed below
  • For 3 additional proposals funding was arranged from sources outside the Student Opportunity Endowment
  • One proposal remains in discussion

 Experiential Education and Culinary Education

Experiential Nutrition and Culinary Education: Connecting Intergenerational Audiences in Food Insecure Areas

Becca Warta (Graduate Student Community Leadership and Development), K. Ricketts & D. Kahl (Faculty  CLD), R. Martin & B. Self (FoodChain), S. Wooten (GleanKY)

This project brings together community mentors and local youth within food insecure areas for a hands-on, experiential education program. A new curriculum “Cook. Eat. Grow.” seeks to engage “Junior Sous Chefs”  in cooking and nutrition education. The program is a collaboration between U.K.’s Department of Community and Leadership Development and the community organizations FoodChain and GleanKY.


Growing Fresh Stop Markets through Neighborhood Leadership

Jeremy Porter (Tweens Nutrition and Fitness Coalition),  T. Dyk & R. Harris & R. Hustedde (Faculty CLD), Mya Price and H. Hyden (Graduate Students CLD), A. Courtney (Tweens Coalition), S. Carter (New Beginnings Church),  K. Moskowitz (New Roots Inc.)

This grant will support connecting UK students and staff with North Lexington residents to increase local fresh food access for limited resource residents. Fresh Stop Markets are a successful model for bringing fresh, local produce at affordable prices to low income neighborhoods. Working within the framework of Fresh Stop Markets in North Lexington, the team will offer expanded opportunities for leadership development.UK Graduate students will be among the team leaders, and undergrads will also be engaged. 


Food Systems, Food Justice and Race:  Innovation in Instruction

Tiffany Harper (Graduate Student CLD), G. Maldonado (UG Dietetics), D. Howard (UG Ag Econ.), R. Harris (Faculty Advisor CLD), M. Price (Faculty Law), C. Finney (Faculty Geography), K. Williams (New Roots Fresh Stop)

UK Faculty and students in the departments of Community and Leadership Development, Geography and African American and Africana Studies will join with community leaders and the Lexington Fresh Stop program to develop a 500 level course on;  Food Systems, Food Justice and Race. Project goals include developing knowledgeable and engaged citizen-students and community leaders who are prepared to address issues related to food systems with a level of proficiency with regard to race.

 Coffee Rust Outbreak in Oaxaca

Coffee Rust Outbreak in Oaxaca, Mexico: Livelihood and Environmental Impacts

Natalie St. Clair & Sarah Lyon (Undergraduate and Faculty Mentor, Anthropology)

Supported by a Food Connection Student Opportunity Grant, Natalie St. Clair will continue and expand her continuing undergraduate research project in Oaxaca, Mexico this summer.  The spread of coffee rust disease has created a crisis in many of the most important coffee farming regions of the developing world.  Travelling to the farms of this region, Natalie will investigate the economic and environmental consequences of the epidemic on local smallholder farmers. 

 Food Pathways in Ancient and Modern Times

Course on Food Pathways in Ancient and Modern Times

Renee Bonzani (Lecturer Anthropology) & Bruce Manzano (Staff Archaeologist Anthropology)

In this course students trace the food pathways of plants and animals from ancient (prehistoric) into modern times. Ethnobotanical sources are then employed to track the uses of plants and animals amongst and between indigenous groups focusing mainly on those of the eastern woodlands and southeast of the United States. Comparisons with Historic period food pathways in Kentucky are also  incorporated into the class. The finale for last year’s class, in the Food Connection Learning Kitchen, was a potluck lunch featuring unique menu items linked to their study of ancient foodways.

Presenting Undergraduate Research

 Experiential Learning

Experiential Learning and Presenting Undergraduate Research

Tammy Stephenson & Amanda Hege (Faculty Advisor Dietetics and Human Nutrition and Coordinator Campus Kitchen)

The Food Connection is continuing its partnership with and sponsorship of Campus Kitchens at UK (CKUK) and Sustainable Solutions to Overcome Poverty (SSTOP Hunger). To date CKUK has recovered over 5,000 pounds of food, creating more than 4,000 meals and serving about 300 clients per month. SSTOP Hunger has provided student leadership allowing UK to become a leader in the international organization Universities Fighting World Hunger.  The Student Opportunity Grant will support student participation in and presentations at national meetings of these organizations.


Undergraduate Internship Opportunities with the Food Systems Innovation Center

Paul Vijayakumar & Leeann Slaughter (Faculty Food Science and FSIC Program Coordinator)

Undergraduate research internships in the Food Science area are supported again in 2016-17. The FSIC assists small and medium food producers and entrepreneurs with food safety and processing technology and provides access to consultation and training to address the wider ranging challenges of bringing a food product to market.  Student interns are immersed in research and development projects of the FSIC. Areas of work emphasized this year include pre-and post-harvest product safety methods in the field, and educational strategies for value-added FDA-regulated foods.

 Sustainable Production of Living Organic Container-grown Herbs

Sustainable Production of Living Organic Container-Grown Kitchen Herbs

Bob Geneve (Faculty Mentor, Horticulture), B. Reed & J. Talbert (Undergraduates Integrated Plant and Soil Science), S. Kester & S. Dutton (Staff Horticulture)

The goal of this project is to develop an organic production system for market quality container-grown kitchen herbs. Two undergraduate students, under the direction of faculty and staff in the Department of Horticulture, will evaluate production methods including fertilization and seeding. The product will be test marketed at the Horticulture Club’s weekly campus market.