As Ari Leach ’12, a Wildlife and Botany major from Blue Hill, Maine, contemplates her final semester as a college student, her worldview is far more expansive than the understandable focus that so many soon-to-be college graduates have on “what’s next” after commencement.  She is concerned for the plight of both the planet and feeding those who suffer from food insecurity.

Recently her efforts to both raise awareness of hunger in America and raise funds to support Feeding America, an organization with a mission to feed America’s hungry, came to the attention of CNN through a viewer recommendation of her fundraising blog online at

Leach’s efforts were featured in a user submitted iReport on CNN’s web site.  Social media such as Facebook and Twitter have also recognized her efforts.

“My effort has only just begun,” noted Leach, who took the simple idea of eating with chopsticks for 365 days-a-year and made it central to an effective fundraising outreach.

“I want to spread awareness of hunger in our communities to as many people as possible,” Leach said.  “Maybe that way we can come together as communities and make significant strides towards aiding the relief efforts.”

Local media in Maine have also become aware of Leach’s fundraising blog.  She will be interviewed on November 30 for a WABI-TV Channel 5 story.

Leach’s efforts are in-keeping with the community service values that are central to a Unity College education.  Unity College students have been involved in the Veggies for All program, a hunger relief effort that grows tons of food to benefit local food pantries.  A founding coordinator of that program is Sara Trunzo ’08, an alum who currently serves as Unity’s Food and Farm Projects Coordinator.

Unity College and the Unity Barn Raisers Community Meal Program will host the 17th Annual Empty Bowls fundraiser at the Unity College Centre for the Performing Arts in Unity on Thursday, December 1, from 5-7 p.m.

The fundraiser will benefit the Volunteer Regional Food Pantry (VRFP) regional monthly food distribution program, which serves families across Western Waldo County and the Unity Barn Raisers Veggies for All project.

In a nod to the importance that he places on community service, Unity College President Stephen Mulkey will be on hand at the Empty Bowls event to serve food.

Unity College is a small private college in rural Maine that provides dedicated, engaged students with a liberal arts education which emphasizes the environment and natural resources.

Unity College graduates are prepared to be environmental stewards, effective leaders, and responsible citizens through active learning experiences within a supportive community.

In 2011, Unity College was named to the top 30 of the Washington Monthly college rankings, and was one of eighteen U.S. colleges and universities named to The Princeton Review’s 2010 Green Rating Honor Roll.

Thursday, November 24, 2011