A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

NKU hosts FUEL with Jenergy Thanksgiving; Kroger, Waffle House, Chartwells, Busken Bakery contribute

Northern Kentucky University’s food pantry, FUEL NKU, has invited students to celebrate Thanksgiving with its volunteers and community supporters.

FUEL NKU has partnered with Jenergy, a local health and well-being company, to host the inaugural FUEL with Jenergy Thanksgiving Dinner on November 21.

Since 2013, FUEL NKU has provided food and essentials to students in a compassionate, confidential and safe environment. Even when the university is closed, these students still need support, and Dr. Jessica Averitt Taylor, the founder of FUEL NKU, wanted to make sure everyone had chance to gather together and give thanks.

“Sharing a special meal is a meaningful way to connect with our students, especially those who may otherwise not have a chance to participate in Thanksgiving celebrations, like our international students and those who rely on FUEL NKU,” said Dr. Averitt Taylor. “Our goal at FUEL NKU is to support the campus community, and we love to bring people together.”

FUEL NKU is expecting 150 students to attend the Thanksgiving meal. 

To host a feast of this size, Dr. Taylor and Jenergy worked to secure sponsorships and leverage existing connections, like the recently announced partnership with The Kroger Foundation.

FUEL NKU is current housed in a 300-square-foot space formerly used as a mailroom (provided photo).

In addition to expanding the FUEL NKU food pantry, Kroger will donate 300 pounds of turkey for the Thanksgiving dinner.

“Food is at the center of all our favorite celebrations, especially at Thanksgiving,” said Erin Rolfes, corporate affairs manager for the Cincinnati-Dayton division of The Kroger Co. “It’s a privilege to make sure every NKU student has a special holiday meal this week.”

The university’s external food services partner, Chartwells, pitched in to cover the side dishes, tableware, seasonal pies and drinks. Busken Bakery will donate 25 pumpkin pies, and Waffle House plans to set up a full waffle bar.

“It matters for us to facilitate partnerships with local community businesses, to grow our community support networks. These connections are absolutely vital, for us as a university and for our students. Long after graduation, our students will still have an established connection with these businesses,” said Dr. Taylor. “I also must thank Jenergy Owner, Jeni Houser. Jeni coordinates Beyond Fit, a student wellness organization at NKU, and she has served a key partner organizing and marketing this event.”

The Thanksgiving Dinner is open for all NKU students. There is no cost, but students are encouraged to bring crackers, snack items, and breakfast/granola bars to donate to FUEL NKU. Visit the event page to register.

Northern Kentucky University

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