Chaifetz School Service Leader, Samantha Kiss, Develops Other Leaders Through Billiken Bounty
Echoing the mission of Chaifetz School of Business’ Service Leadership Program, Saint Louis University senior Samantha Kiss is passing the torch of leadership skills on to the next graduating class. In keeping with her duty as a leader to develop other leaders, she recognized food insecurity among SLU students and had the vision to solve it through recruiting students, faculty and staff from across the University to develop Billiken Bounty, a new food campus food pantry.
“I decided that we needed a solution to hunger on campus because I was aware of its presence but not enough people were, so nothing was happening,” Kiss said.
After conducting a needs assessment survey of SLU’s student population, she found that approximately 20 percent of the student body is at risk of food insecurity at some point in their college careers.
Receiving support from faculty, staff and fellow members of the Service Leadership Program, Kiss had the necessary resources to recruit students from different areas who all shared the same passion.
“Slowly but surely, I built up a team of students who were also interested in this issue, and we were able to develop a student leadership team who now run the food pantry and host food collection opportunities across campus,” Kiss said. “We really developed our network.”
After nine months of development and research, Kiss, an economics and political science major, founded Billiken Bounty, a food pantry located in the Busch Student Center, assisting students who might otherwise go hungry.
"Samantha's entrepreneurial spirit and drive for social justice are great examples
of what we hope the Service Leadership Program will instill and foster in our students,”
said Ben Smyth, Service Leadership Program manager. “Through her experience on campus
and in the community, she noticed a need, researched the issue, sought innovative
solutions and put her leadership skills into practice."
Since the opening of Billiken Bounty in September 2018, Kiss and other members have seen a positive impact on students. After utilizing Billiken Bounty’s resources, students responded to an exit survey saying that they, “are able to focus more time and energy on their classes and feel that they are treated with dignity and respect,” Kiss said.
With the future in mind, Kiss is thinking of ways Billiken Bounty can continue to
solve food insecurity among students even after she graduates.
“I wanted a contingency plan because I’m a senior, and all of my hopes and dreams for Billiken Bounty are bigger than just this one year,” Kiss said. “ I collected a group of 20 faculty members from all different offices and divisions across campus who were really passionate about the cause.”
Not only did Kiss have a vision for the food pantry to be sustainable, but she also wanted it to respect its clients, she said.
“I really wanted to emphasize the dignity of it and the fact that we respect our students in mind, body and spirit, the whole package," Kiss said. "They deserve quality and to be treated with dignity when they go into the food pantry."
Through the Service Leadership Program, Kiss applied the skills she learned in serving others to cultivate leaders who will aspire to carry out the mission of Billiken Bounty to support fellow students for years to come.
The Chaifetz School of Business Service Leadership Program is a co-curricular program that provides business students the opportunity to develop their skills while becoming men and women for others through coursework, leadership workshops and 200 hours of community service. The Service Leadership Program hosts opportunities throughout the year to serve the St. Louis community.