Dr. Green Shoes — Joe Cobbs ‘Going Green for Groceries’ and FUEL NKU

“People on our campus are hungry; let's remove the barriers to food availability…”

By Tom Ramstetter
NKU Marketing + Communications

It won’t be hard to spot Joe Cobbs around campus this semester.

Dr. Cobbs, an assistant professor of sports business in the Haile/U.S. Bank College of Business, wears green shoes each day he teaches to raise awareness and spur donations to FUEL NKU — the new on-campus food pantry for students.

“I'm calling it 'Green for Groceries,' and I have donated a canned good to FUEL for each day of class that I will wear green shoes,” Dr. Cobbs says.

FUEL NKU regularly serves 20 students on campus in the fight against hunger. It’s a cause that inspired Dr. Cobbs and wearing green shoes to highlight that was a natural choice for him.

“For me, green is an inspiring color because of its fantastic manifestation in our natural environment as well as the connotation with GO (i.e., green light),” Dr. Cobbs says. “My hope in choosing green as my shoe color is that my students and colleagues will be similarly inspired, if only subtly.

“Green for Groceries is an intuitive way for me to use my green shoes to promote the important message that everyone on our campus can't afford basic groceries, and involvement with the FUEL effort allows me and you to engage in a local solution.”

The goal for FUEL NKU is to enrich the lives of the students it serves by providing nutritional assistance and other useful items to those students. The pantry provides a compassionate, confidential, and safe environment that respects dignity while aspiring to educate and facilitate dialogue in regards to hunger at NKU.

There is also an associated student organization, known as FUEL. 

Dr. Jessica Averitt Taylor Dr. Jessica Taylor

“This entire project started with just one hungry student last fall, and our NKU students have really been leaders on every step,” says Dr. Jessica Averitt Taylor, an assistant professor of social work in the College of Education & Human Services and a member of the FUEL NKU board of directors. “They organized a hunger awareness flash mob on campus this past spring, attended countless planning meetings, designed and distributed flyers, and just showed amazing initiative and dedication to social justice. This is what our community here at NKU is all about.” 

To keep achieving the goal, FUEL needs donations from the campus community.

“We always welcome donations of non-perishable food items and toiletries,” says Dr. Taylor. “Any donations are welcome, but the items that tend to be in the most demand at the moment include boxed macaroni and cheese, snack foods such as crackers, and toiletries such as toilet paper, toothpaste, etc. We are also hoping for shelving and a pushcart to help people get their donations to us.” 

Volunteers are also welcome. FUEL NKU will hold volunteer orientation sessions throughout the academic year for anyone interested in donating time to this effort. The sessions last about an hour. 

Dr. Cobbs was inspired right away.

“Dr. Greg Martin, a colleague in our Department of Marketing, Economics and Sports Business, has been keeping our faculty up to date with the development of FUEL,” Dr. Cobbs says. “Two elements that he described drew me to engage in a tangible way: first, the potential to directly impact students on our campus in a way that enhances their capacity for success in education and life; and second, the hard work of those involved to maintain the simplicity of the concept. People on our campus are hungry; let's remove the barriers to food availability.”

While it’s too early to gauge the impact of Dr. Cobbs’s green kicks, he has noticed some compliments for the shoes and a greater enthusiasm for the idea of Green for Groceries following a quick explanation of the cause.

Dr. Joe Cobbs Photos by Timothy D. Sofranko, NKU

Dr. Joe Cobbs wears green shoes each day he teaches to raise awareness and spur donations to FUEL NKU — the new on-campus food pantry for students.

FUEL NKU Board of Directors

Anita Adkins, MSW
Student Support Services

Deborah Henry, MSW
Advising, COEHS

Caroline Macke, PhD, MSW
Social work faculty

Greg Martin, PhD, MBA
Marketing, Economics, and Sports Business faculty

Mark Neikirk
Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement 

Jessica Averitt Taylor, PhD, MSW
Social Work faculty

NOTE: Faculty members are welcome to incorporate this effort into their classes, and FUEL NKU encourages student organizations to get involved as well. Please contact FUEL@nku.edu for more information.

“By the end of the semester, I hope there is a general awareness of FUEL that includes sustainable use of this campus resource through engagement with food donors, users, volunteers and conversationalists willing to promote the effort,” Dr. Cobbs says. “My green shoes and associated donation will be only a small part of a much larger effort around this campus. If my commitment can lead a few others to be involved in their own way, it will be worthwhile.”

Contact FUEL NKU at FUEL@nku.edu.