Five alumni from the University of Kentucky, a Sullivan Foundation partner school, are putting their degrees to work by showing support for front-line workers and local restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic.
With backgrounds in business and medicine, Michael Zhu, Jodi Llanora, Kyle Luo, Logan Jones and John Stein refused to feel helpless in the fight against COVID-19. “The original idea for Feed the Front Line originated in Houston and started to make its way to other cities,” Zhu said. “When our team heard about the mission of the organization, it immediately resonated. We love the double-sided impact.”
Feed the Front Line (FTFL) began as a simple idea—raise money, buy local food and deliver it to healthcare workers. Now, the successful nonprofit operates in several states.
Together, Zhu—who graduated with a degree in finance from Gatton College of Business and Economics in 2019—and the group of UK alumni created the Kentucky chapter. Llanora and Luo are both 2019 graduates who earned degrees in biology. Jones and Stein, also 2019 graduates, earned their degrees in finance and marketing.
Here’s how it works: Through donations, FTFL Kentucky is able to purchase bulk meal orders from local restaurants. Volunteers deliver those meals to hospitals, testing sites and other healthcare establishments. With 100% of the proceeds allocated to local eateries, the result is a two-sided impact for each dollar raised. The mission is to feed those on the front lines while also helping restaurant employees.
“We saw a need and wanted to meet that need. It sounds simple, but we just wanted to help in whatever way we could,” Stein said. “We believe many people feel that same desire to help in any way possible. One of the most powerful things is seeing how people rally behind the cause for the common good.”
The generosity is nothing short of impressive. So far, Feed the Front Line Kentucky has raised more than $10,000, allowing the team to deliver 400 meals, with another 200 meals scheduled for delivery this week.
Additionally, FTFL Kentucky recently partnered with MiddleGround Capital as a corporate sponsor. The private equity firm—founded by Kentucky native John Stewart—will assist with delivering more than 500 meals throughout National Nurses Week (May 6-12).
“Some of the most tremendous business leaders that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting have always focused on giving back to the community and bringing others along with them on the path to success,” Zhu said.
The desire to make a positive impact is what drove the team to launch Feed the Front Line Kentucky. That same desire will keep them motivated to continue giving back throughout the entirety of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We felt like it was our duty to at least attempt something that could help our local community,” Zhu said.
This article has been edited slightly from the original version appearing on the UK website.