Ashley Cheesman

Ball State senior Ashley Cheesman decorates cookies at her grandma’s house. The photojournalism major, who experienced hunger during her middle school years, celebrates the work of Indy nonprofit Food Rescue.

Once hungry for food, now hungry for change

By Ashley Cheesman, senior photojournalism major at Ball State University

My younger brother and I would take turns staying at grandmas’ houses so my mom and dad could work extra shifts. We never went to bed hungry.

Then, I turned 16, and my parents divorced. Money became tight and food, less healthy. My siblings and I qualified for lunch assistance, and we all tried to keep our struggles secret. We weren’t the only students living on little, but I remember noticing, more and more, how much food others threw away. Perceptive friends offered me food, but teachers told us it was against the rules.

In fall 2017, I enrolled in a Ball State Journalism immersive class to capture stories and recipes of East Central Indiana. I had no idea it would take me back to those days, as a hungry, uncertain child, but it did, and I am so thankful.

Our research unearthed Food Rescue, a national nonprofit that works with more than 200 organizations and 500 schools to collect and redistribute unwanted and unwrapped items. Since its creation in 2017, the nonprofit has rescued roughly 1 million meals each year from the 40 percent of food we waste.

According to Food Rescue, Americans throw away close to 1 billion unwrapped and unwanted food items each year. The organization, started by Ball State graduate John Williamson, partners with schools and businesses to “rescue” those products.

At the organization’s 10-year celebration, I met John Williamson, the organization’s president and CEO, and learned he graduated from Ball State. It empowered me to know someone who maybe sat in these same seats, is making a lasting impact on the lives of boy and girls like me.

The best part: Williamson is driven to eradicate the perception that people are “less than” if they accept the generosity of others. Food Rescue, based in Carmel, Indiana, encourages students—no matter their situation—to take from the collection. The organization’s focus on education helps young minds understand that enjoying rescued food lessens our impact on the environment. We throw away 1 billion unwrapped and unpeeled food items each year in the United States.

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My experience with hunger and need was short-lived, but life doesn’t settle down for everyone, and kids are often caught in the middle. One in six people are still food insecure in the United States, and more than 300,000 Hoosier kids don’t know where their next meal is coming from, according to Food Rescue.

I hope Food Rescue and other organizations continue to change attitudes. I share my story to give a face to food insecurity in our region and to encourage my neighbors to not judge and to be part of the solution. This battle shouldn’t be fought alone. Together, we can make sure no one goes hungry.

Cheesman and her husband, Dylan, will be married one year in June 2018. The two are focused on adapting the comforting flavors of their childhood into healthier options. Cheesman has explored many options, but her favorite dish remains one from her childhood—smoked sausage, green beans and roasted potatoes.

Read more about Food Rescue’s range of partnerships in K-12 schools and beyond on the organization’s website or learn about hunger in Indiana at Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, a state association of Indiana’s food banks.

Mammaw Peggy’s “Doubled” Eggs

Young Ashley couldn’t say “deviled,” so the egg dish became known as “doubled eggs.”


  • 12 medium eggs
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon mustard to taste
  • 3 tablespoons light mayonnaise
  • Paprika to taste

Directions: Bring a pot of water large enough for all 12 eggs to a rolling boil. Place eggs into the boiling water, add salt and allow to cook for 10-15 minutes. Once eggs are boiled, drain hot water from the pot and refill with cold water. Take a butter knife or use your hands to crack and remove the eggs’ shells. Dispose of the shells, and set peeled eggs aside. Take a sharp knife, and cut the eggs in half, lengthwise. Remove yolks from the halved shells into the mixing bowl. Using your fork, mash the yolks in the bowl to a fine, grainy substance. Stir in mayonnaise, then squeeze bottle of mustard around the circumference of the yolk bowl one time, stir. Using a clean fork, taste the mixture. Add more mayonnaise or mustard based on your tastes. Once the mixture is to your liking, use the butter knife to place the mixture into the centers of the peeled egg whites. Place eggs on a plate and sprinkle with paprika. Enjoy!