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College of Arts and Sciences

Jonathan Lowry ‘16 receives the JFK Memorial Award for hunger relief work

May 6, 2016

Jonathan Lowry, ‘16, a biological sciences and government major in the College of Arts & Sciences, received the John F. Kennedy Memorial Award May 3rd for his work with the Cornell Food Recovery Network; it is intended to help him pursue a career in public service.

During his freshman year, Lowry worked in a dining hall on campus where he became discouraged seeing such a large amount of leftover food being composted rather than reaching hungry people in need -- a need that Lowery knew through his volunteer work at Loaves and Fishes, a local food pantry, where he served families in the community struggling with food insecurity.

In an effort to try to help bridge this gap between the abundance of food generated by Cornell dining halls and the need within the community, Lowery embarked on a two-year long mission to establish the Cornell Food Recovery Network, a student organization that donates excess food from dining halls to local food pantries. Since the Cornell Food Recovery Network began in 2014, kicked-off with funds received by Lowry from a Robinson-Appel Humanitarian Award, over 4,800 pounds of food have been diverted from compost bins and donated. Leftover food from Becker House Dining and Robert Purcell Marketplace Eatery are recovered at the end of the day and transported to the Friendship Donations Network, where it is redistributed to various operations serving the hungry in the greater Ithaca community.

“It was this organization, made up of my closest friends, bonded by shared commitment to fight hunger, that stoked my commitment to public service,” said Lowry.

After graduation, Lowry plans to continue his studies and go to law school, which he sees as essential for gaining the tools necessary to further his goals of social reform and to continue to fight against hunger through improving legislation and policies on social welfare programs.

Lowery serves as the president of the Class of the 2016, a Quill and Dagger Senior Society member, is a recipient of the 2016 United States President’s Volunteer Service Award and received first place in the Red Ideas Competition for his work with the Cornell Food Recovery Network.  

The Class of 1964 established the JFK Memorial Award to encourage well-qualified Cornell students to enter careers in government or public service. The $12,000 award endeavors to further President Kennedy’s interest in realizing the leadership potential of America’s youth. The Class of 1964 award honors a graduating senior who has demonstrated a commitment to contributing to the public through service on or off campus and wants to continue this commitment through a career in government or public service. The Public Service Center administers the JFK Memorial Award.