On Saturday, over 140 student volunteers in gloves and hairnets gathered in the Kenyon Athletic Center (KAC) to assemble thousands of high-nutrient meals. These meal packs were for the Lesotho Nutrition Initiative, a non-profit organization based at Wittenberg College, to be shipped to children in Lesotho, one of the poorest nations in the world.
The Lesotho Nutrition Initiative (LNI) is run by Scott Rosenberg ’89, a professor at Wittenberg College. Nearly all members of the organization are Wittenberg students. Rosenberg founded the organization in 2016 after he “fell in love” with Lesotho during a 27-month Peace Corps mission. Since 2003, he has taken classes of students on trips to build houses and plant gardens in the country. On Saturday, he hoped to get Kenyon involved in his organization.
About 30 minutes into the event, Rosenberg stopped the music to make an announcement. “We’ve packaged 8,000 meals so far,” he told the volunteers. By the end of the two hours, that number had climbed to 33,480.
The student turnout for the LNI event was higher than was expected. “We were told by Scott that we needed 90 to 100 volunteers,” said Jess Kusher ’19, one of the Kenyon students responsible for organizing the event. In the end, around 40 more volunteers arrived as walk-ins. “They showed up because they were excited to volunteer, which was really amazing,” Kusher said. Several Greek and student organizations participated, including Phi Kappa Tau, Alpha Delta Phi and the Archon Society.
LNI only recently began working with schools around Ohio, but the Kenyon visit has been in the works for more than a year. Rosenberg reached out directly to President Sean Decatur, who set a team of students in charge of coordinating the event.
“The ability to come full circle, to share this with Kenyon students and make them a part of this — I hate to say ‘cool,’ but it’s so cool for me,” Rosenberg said.
He credits Kenyon professors, including Professor of Anthropology David Suggs with his interest and involvement with humanitarian service. “[Suggs] really showed me a part of the world, and helped me develop an interest in a part of the world I never would have thought of before I came here,” he said. “So I owe a great deal to David.”
As for the members of LNI, most said they were glad that they’d joined the organization. “It’s solidified what I want to do career-wise. I’m looking at a job here now,” Kelsey Fobean, a student at Wittenberg, said.
Jill Engel-Hellman, director of residential life and assistant dean of students, was there as a volunteer. She said the event displayed the collaborative efforts of the student body. “I think it’s a great opportunity,” Engel-Hellman said. “I don’t think there are a lot of different opportunities on campus for all these different groups to come together. You get the Greeks, the athletes … They’re all working together, and the commonality is Kenyon.”
Editors’ Note: This reporter participated in the event as a member of Phi Kappa Tau.