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University of South Carolina student helps feed those in need

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Published on May 30, 2012

It's not just the suit and bow tie that he wears every day that causes Chase Mizzell to stand out on the University of South Carolina campus. It's his words and actions, too. The South Carolina Honors College

sophomore and student government vice president started making a difference just a few weeks after he arrived on campus, when he noticed extra food in the Honeycomb Café.

His question: What do you do with all this leftover food?

The answer: It gets thrown away.

Mizzell knew right away he wanted to change that. "I don't take no for an answer," Mizzell said. "I have this drive and belief that anything is possible and that people are inherently good." So he researched state law, talked to health officials, identified homeless shelters and worked with Carolina Dining-Sodexo operations director Mike Gwiazdowski.

Second Servings was born. The food donation program pairs on-campus restaurants with small shelters around the Midlands area of South Carolina, offering leftover food three days a week. The food is stored in special containers at the dining halls then picked up by representatives of the nonprofit shelters. Some days, it's sandwiches and fruit; others, it's salad fixings or hot meals.

A total of 31,920 meals from USC's dining facilities are delivered to smaller shelters each school year. The project started with the restaurant in the Honors Residence Hall and has grown over the past year
to include every on-campus dining facility. The key, Mizzell and Gwiazdowski said, is building a personal connection between each restaurant and each shelter. "When Chase and I first met, we wanted to be sure we could simplify this and make it easy to do. We wanted it small enough to be sustainable and we wanted it to be something that could continue without us having to be involved," Gwiazdowski said. "We started out with small shelters, and found 12 to 24 residents is a good fit."

Mizzell's work to develop Second Servings earned him recognition as a 2012 Newman Civic Fellow. The awards, sponsored by Campus Compact, recognize 162 college students in 32 states who have worked to find solutions to challenges facing their communities.

"He's persistent, he's personable and he's a great communicator," Gwiazdowski said of Mizzell. The necessity to give back is deeply rooted in Mizzell, who grew up in St. George and Folly Beach, S.C.
His grandfather became the mentor who instilled in Mizzell that "It doesn't matter who you are or what you do. Everyone should be valued." In the two years he has been at Carolina, he has taken those words to heart.

"Growing up, I always had the Gamecock family spirit, but being here and learning about the Carolina Creed made me fall in love with what this university stands for," Mizzell said. "I've been blown away by the opportunities here. You can make big change happen."

Mizzell has already made it happen -- just ask the people who rely on local shelters for their meals.

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