Full Circle Food Pantry students to be recognized by the White House

From left: Sylvia Tran, Julia Lyon, Angela Oxford, Rachael Pellegrino and Mirelle Pierini will represent the Full Circle Campus Food Pantry at the White House.

Courtesy image

All that voting for the University of Arkansas’ Full Circle Food Pantry worked wonders.

The program finished second in the nationwide competition intended to inspire young folks to get involved in their communities. The group received 57,142 votes (second only to the University of Massachusetts-Amherst’s 59,852 votes) and is one of five winners of theWhite House Campus Champions of Change Challenge.

Now, the four students behind the program and one UA staffer will travel to the White House this week to be recognized for their achievements.

The students making the trip are: Julia Lyon, a student volunteer and chair of the Full Circle Campus Food Pantry; Sylvia Tran, an intern with the Volunteer Action Center; Full Circle volunteers Mirelle Pierini and Rachel Pellegrino. Angela Oxford, director for the center for community engagement, will accompany the students.

“Thanks to everyone who has supported the Full Circle Campus Food Pantry,” said Lyon. “We never dreamed we would be invited to the White House as a result of this program. We certainly could not have achieved this without everyone voting as they did.”

The students will tour the White House and visit with Arkansas Senator Mark Pryor before taking part in a public ceremony and panel discussion on Thursday, March 15. The ceremony and panel will be streamed live on the White House website at 1:50 p.m.

The Champions of Change program was created as a part of President Obama’s Winning the Future initiative. Each week, a different sector is highlighted and groups, ranging from educators to entrepreneurs to community leaders, are recognized for the work they are doing to serve and strengthen their communities.

In addition to being invited to the White House, these Campus Champions of Change will have the opportunity to work with mtvU and MTV Act to create short features about their projects that will air on mtvU and be featured on MTV.com.

The Full Circle Food Pantry was opened in February 2011 by students involved with the university’s Volunteer Action Center with the goal of providing a dignified and discreet way for any member of the University of Arkansas community who needed food to get it. In the first year of operation, the pantry has served more than 2,500 people.

To follow along with the students’ experiences, follow @UAVAC on Twitter, or check out the Volunteer Action Center’s blog.