Taking action to feed community kids

Taking action to feed community kids

Marketing major masterminds Universities Feed Project, which directs surplus food to the hungry.
With confidence, patience and precision, Louiza Ouazzi put together an action plan to provide food—good food, nutritious food—to children in the Borough of Glassboro.

“I really like that the children are getting a lot of vegetables,” says Ouazzi, a marketing major and mastermind behind the Universities Feed Project, which provides fresh, surplus, Rowan University-prepared food to children involved with the Glassboro unit of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Gloucester County.

“The meals are healthy and the food they’re getting is some of the most delicious food we have here at Rowan.”

Since the project, known as U-Feed, was launched in mid-February, more than 500 pounds of food—chicken, green beans, pasta, salmon, even some desserts—have been donated by Rowan’s Sodexo Dining Services to the Boys & Girls Club.

That amounts to approximately 100 pounds of food each week that, just months ago, would have landed in the trashcan untouched. Now, through an intricate process designed by Ouazzi with guidance from Sodexo managers and chefs, food handlers carefully package the extra food, chill it, label it with ingredients and heating instructions, and call the Boys & Girls Club for pick-up.

The club serves up to 100 children, ages five to 18, every day, according to Joyce “Miss Joyce” Rolle, who has worked with the club for four years.

“We have some children, who, without getting our meals, might not have any food the rest of the day,” says Rolle. “Here, they get dinner at the club and it takes the burden off of the home. The meals that Rowan sends are very good.”

Developing a plan

Ouazzi, who will accept her marketing degree, with a minor in advertising and a concentration in international studies, from Rowan’s Rohrer College of Business, worked for Dining Services as a freshman. She was shocked that so much food was wasted each day due to strict food safety regulations.

“We would throw away pans of food that were still in the oven and hadn’t even been touched,” says Ouazzi, who worked as a Peer Referral Orientation Leader and Rowan Ambassador at the University.

Last fall, as part of a project she undertook through the Self Expression and Leadership Program through Landmark Education—Ouazzi believes wholeheartedly in taking every challenge she can to grow as a leader—she decided to develop an action plan for U-Feed.

The project involved dozens of steps. Ouazzi had to learn which foods can—and can’t—be recycled. She had to learn the safety rules and regulations behind storing and transporting the food. She had to find a local agency that was part of the Feeding America Organization. Sodexo, a national company, only donates food to Feeding America groups. Most importantly, she had to use her considerable interpersonal skills to convince all of the players that U-Feed would work—and be successful.

That wasn’t a tall order for Ouazzi, who operates with an air of authority and self-confidence.

“I knew it was possible,” says Ouazzi, of Mountainside. “There really isn’t anything you can’t do. I knew I just had to figure out a way to make it all work.

“I created an action plan with an end result. I worked backwards, milestone by milestone, to achieve it.”

Expanding the program

Ouazzi’s dedication to the project is awe-inspiring, says Janine Liebel, marketing director for Sodexo at Rowan.

“From the first day, Louiza has been a bundle of positivity, confidence and optimism,” says Liebel. “We’re so happy we were able to work with her. It’s a great, great program.”

Ouazzi is hopeful to spread U-Feed to other colleges in the area. She’s connecting with students from a dozen other schools in the Delaware Valley with the hope that their communities, too, will receive food donations. As she prepares to graduate, she’s already found a successor to lead U-Feed at Rowan: junior marketing major Danielle Magazu.

“There are so many people who need good food,” Ouazzi says. “I like to think that my work is impacting the lives of people I haven’t even met yet.”