A&S Alumni Help Form Nonprofit to Feed Front-Line Workers, Support Local Restaurants

By Lindsey Piercy 

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 6, 2020) — Five University of Kentucky alumni are putting their degrees to work by showing support for front-line workers and local restaurants. 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. Llanora and Luo are alumni of the College of Arts & Sciences. 

“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  began as a simple idea: raise money, buy local food and deliver it to health care workers. Now, the successful nonprofit operates in several states. 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.

Feed the Front Line Kentucky Team Members are:

  • Logan Jones '19 — finance and marketing, Gatton College of Business and Economics.
  • Jodi Llanora '19 — biology, College of Arts and Sciences.
  • Kyle Luo '19 – biology, College of Arts and Sciences.
  • John Stein '19 – finance and marketing, Gatton College of Business and Economics.

Here’s how it works: Through donations,the group is able to buy bulk meal orders from local restaurants. Volunteers deliver those meals to hospitals, testing sites and other health care establishments.All proceeds are allocated to local eateries. 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.”

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.

The group also 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 COVID-19 pandemic.

“We felt like it was our duty to at least attempt something that could help our local community," Zhu said. 

You can learn more about FTFL Kentucky and donate to the cause online.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion three years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" two years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for four straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.