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Ooey-gooey goodness for a cause: FHS senior's Grilled Cheese Experience

FHS Senior Anna Williams

Family and Human Services (FHS) Senior Anna Williams has spearheaded The Grilled Cheese Experience, a partnership with 15 area restaurants and Food for Lane County that represents her senior project. We caught up with Anna to find out more about it.

Tell us about yourself.

I am a senior in the Family and Human Services program at the university. I’m originally from McMinnville, OR, but I went to high school in Lake Oswego (go Lakers!) and currently my home base is Huntington Beach, CA. I love the FHS program and have cherished my experience in the major, but my personal career goals have shifted. I am now pursuing a career in public relations, specifically within the field of food and beverage. My senior internship at FOOD For Lane County has provided me with excellent training in public relations and event planning, within the setting of a nonprofit organization.

What’s your project all about and who does it benefit?

I developed FOOD For Lane County’s The Grilled Cheese Experience as my senior project for the FHS program. Presented by our title sponsor U.S. Bank, The Grilled Cheese Experience is a collaboration with 15 Eugene eateries that will feature unique twists on the classic grilled cheese for 10 days, May 1 through May 10. $1-$2 from each grilled cheese sold during the event will benefit FOOD For Lane County. Red Wagon Creamery is even featuring a grilled cheese ice cream sundae!

How did it come to be?

I realized FOOD For Lane County’s major fundraising events were targeted at a specific audience. I developed The Grilled Cheese Experience with the intention of providing an opportunity for the general public to participate in supporting a great cause. The idea is that most people will be able to afford a grilled cheese sandwich, especially if they are already planning to eat out. I want to remind the public that not everyone can afford the luxury of making a grilled cheese at home, let alone enjoying one at a restaurant. The funds raised from The Grilled Cheese Experience will support FOOD For Lane County’s many programs that help alleviate hunger by creating access to food.

Did you do all the work yourself, or did you have help?

The Grilled Cheese Experience was a huge undertaking for a senior balancing 20 credits and a part-time job. My internship supervisor, Dawn Marie Woodward, and the entire FOOD For Lane County Development team have been instrumental in helping me put this event together - I could not have pulled it off without their guidance and support. I would also like to thank Andrea Baysa, a senior advertising major with an emphasis in graphic design, for creating (and perfecting) all promotional materials for this event. Andrea has been extremely patient with me throughout this process and I will definitely be treating her to a grilled cheese next week!

How did you get so many restaurants on board? Were they enthusiastic about the project?

Honestly, my supervisor and I hoped for five participating restaurants. We considered 10 to be our “reach,” so you can imagine our surprise and excitement when 15 restaurants and food trucks were on board! It has been an honor to collaborate with so many supportive restaurant managers and chefs.  The Grilled Cheese Experience is a great partnership between local businesses and a well-respected non-profit organization - they were happy to participate.

Are there plans to pass the project on after you graduate?

I am working closely with the FOOD For Lane County Development team on a future plan for The Grilled Cheese Experience. At this time, I cannot guarantee what the event will look like in the future.

How do you feel about your cohort and your overall experience at the COE? Name names if you’d like.

My experience as an FHS major has been unforgettable. I am inspired every day by my cohort members … they will go on to change the world in so many different, yet powerful ways. After graduation, I will miss walking through the COE complex and feeling the unmistakable vibes of hope and change. This sounds corny, but any COE student will know what I mean.

For more information about the Grilled Cheese Experience, download the news release (PDF).