Concerns about community hunger has prompted some Western Kentucky University students to open their home and host free monthly meals for those in need.
"We have students with a need on campus," said Ariel Moore, an Owensboro sophomore.
Moore is one of five students living in the $100 Solution House on 1534 Chestnut St., which houses four undergraduate students and one graduate student. The house brings together students to meet a community need through a $100 Solution grant. Students hosted an open house Wednesday with free food for students and WKU employees to promote their living learning community.
"Anywhere there's service, we try to plug them in," said Minnette Ellis, an assistant director of Housing and Residence Life, who runs WKU's living learning communities.
Students first opened their home last fall for a Thanksgiving dinner after they learned about local hunger.
"We realized how big of an issue hunger is," said Karina Bruce, a Louisville junior living in the house. She said about eight to 10 WKU students and staff a week stopped by WKU's Food Pantry around October and November.
"We kind of just took it from there and tried to see what we could do as students," she said.
Together they prepared food from WKU's Food Pantry and purchased food with donations to host a Harvest Feast for WKU community members. Three meals later, the students are still trying to raise awareness by providing a comfortable place to get food and meet other people. Whether the project will continue hasn't been decided.
"I think we all hope so," said Bruce, adding it's taught them about teamwork and partnership. The meals have been funded with other donations rather than the $100 grant.
"When we come together, it really works," Moore added.
As many as 611,100 Kentuckians receive food assistance from the Kentucky Association of Food Banks, according to a 2014 report. That translates to one in seven people in Kentucky.
Students chatted and gathered in the house to eat tacos, guacamole and chips while sipping soft drinks out of cups with clunking ice.
Jared Richards, an Owensboro freshman who attended the open house, said community service is rewarding.
"I consider that a true joy to me," he said. Richards said he'd like to live in the house someday and came to learn more about it.
Madeline Rafferty, a freshman from Owensboro, attended a spaghetti dinner at the house last month.
"I think this is an awesome way to make an impact," she said, adding it's a way "for students to support other students."
Bowling Green freshman Juan Pinilla appreciated how the event brought "a lot of different people all in one room."
Bowling Green sophomore Emily Anne Pride agreed.
"It's building community across the campus," she said.
— Follow education reporter Aaron Mudd on Twitter @aaron_muddbgdn or visit bgdailynews.com.