BOZEMAN - According to the Gallatin Valley Food Bank, one in eight students in the Valley face food insecurity.
Two years ago as the world shut down, it provided Nina Romano some inspiration for her senior project two years later.
“Many, many students only get meals that they get in a day from school. So, that kind of sparked my interest. I was like, that can't be right, we’re in Bozeman, there can't be that much food insecurity,” says Romano.
That statistic was her inspiration for her senior project.
“On food insecurity and hunger in America, specifically Bozeman,” says Romano.
As she worked on the project some of the issues facing our community she found are hidden in plain sight.
“That was really hard to hear, like, wow I really do have classmates who are struggling with these things and most people don't even know about it,” says Romano.
As her family gave food during the shutdown in 2020.
“My family and some coworkers [were] working it and I did see classmates and I did see people and say oh I know them,” says Romano.
Her senior project then grew into a fundraiser.
“I helped to work the Pack the Sack campaign which is a campaign for the Kidspack program and we did raise $22,000,” says Romano.
Working around the family restaurant has helped her connection to the community.
“She's been around the restaurant a lot, given that for good or for bad, families that are in the business they kind of live it all the time,” Megan Romano, Owner & Chef at Urban Kitchen.
“It's really no surprise that she is trying to tackle something like this,” says Joseph Romano, Owner & Chef at Urban Kitchen.
A project that took off in January at her internship led her to this.
“Looking back and my original task was just to help market, help work the Pack the Sack campaign and kind of just do a lot of the behind the scenes stuff and now she's given me this opportunity to organize this fundraiser,” says Romano.
For Jenn Lammers, Executive Director at the Bozeman Schools Foundation, working alongside Nina and seeing the idea blossom.
“This was just a really exciting opportunity to see a young person have an idea and a passion and really go for it,” says Lammers.
Romano’s big lesson from the project.
“We have a lot of great, great human beings here that want to help,” says Romano.