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1,000 miles, $10,000

1,000 miles, $10,000

FLC senior backpacks for Grub Hub Food Pantry

Image shows man with backpack smiling.
Wilson stands at the ready, pack straps in hand.

Cole Wilson, a senior studying Adventure Education, will begin a nearly 1,000-mile backpacking journey on Saturday, March 11, to support Fort Lewis College’s Grub Hub Food Pantry. Wilson, a long-time Grub Hub employee, will trek the Grand Enchantment Trail, which spans 770 miles from Phoenix, Arizona, to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Wilson plans to use his time on the trail to raise $10,000 for the pantry through a peer-to-peer campaign in collaboration with FLC's Advancement Office. 

The campaign will use GiveSmart, an online fundraising and donor management platform. Peer-to-peer fundraising allows organizations like the Grub Hub to enlist the support of locals who fundraise on behalf of their chosen organization through online and social media channels. Wilson will check in, raise awareness of food insecurity, and encourage his followers to donate to his campaign while on the trail.

The Grub Hub is a student-led, basic needs justice organization committed to serving the FLC community. It has provided shelf-stable goods, produce, meat, and to-go meals to students, staff, and faculty with no eligibility requirements since 2010. It also provides hot lunches and soup throughout the week. Last academic year, the pantry provided 21,340 pounds of foodstuffs at no cost. 

"I started volunteering in 2020. I didn't know about the Grub Hub at that point. It was my fifth semester, and it was beneficial, especially during the pandemic. I had some time in my schedule to do an act of service. I asked if they had open volunteers positions, and it's grown into a paid position where I work 10 hours a week."

— Cole Wilson

The Grub Hub’s free model overlaps with FLC’s overarching mission to meet its stakeholders where they are, not where the institution wants them to be.

“If students’ basic needs aren’t met, they won’t do well in their work, relationships, or studies. You need a full belly before you can do any of that,” Wilson said. “There’s such a huge need on campus for places like the Grub Hub.” 

Wilson will cross through some of the region's dustiest and most remote landscapes, including the Superstition Mountains, the Gila Wilderness, the Mogollon Rim, and the Sandia Mountains. The trail is one of the most biodiverse routes in the region, running through aspen forests, deserts, and slot canyons.

Image shows man pointing towards melon.
Wilson reminds himself why he's hiking in the first place.

He’s no stranger to long-distance backpacking trips, either: he’s hiked the 485-mile Colorado Trail and the 800-mile Arizona Trail. This time, though, he’s turning that passion for the outdoors into meaningful work for the campus community. 

“Cole approached me with his fundraising idea, and I thought it was creative and engaging,” said Stella Zhu, basic needs coordinator of the Grub Hub. “It’s amazing to see a him demonstrate there are multiple ways to contribute to something we should all care about. He’s doing a Durango-centric activity, but he’s also raising awareness and money to fight food insecurity.” 

Image shows man standing in Grub Hub doorway.
Wilson stands in the doorway of the Grub Hub.

Wilson will weather the elements for 52 days with only eight resupplies. He will send regular updates of his journey to Elle Phillips, a sophomore studying Sociology and the Grub Hub’s social media coordinator. Phillips is heavily involved with the fundraiser’s planning and implementation. 

“It’s a great way to get the community involved,” Phillips said. “The Grub Hub is more than a food pantry; it’s a community. Here, everyone is equal, and we can find a sense of belonging with food. I want donors to see Cole’s story and what he’s doing. I want them to support that.”

Wilson, who completed his degree requirements with two half-semester courses earlier this year, will begin his campaign on March 8, two days before he starts his trek. The fundraiser will run until the end of the academic year when he returns to walk at commencement. 

Donate to Cole's campaign


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