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Jonathan Lowry '16

See February, 2018 Update

"Food is a universal human right, and our country is responsible for providing sustenance to those who are destitute or disabled."

Jonathan Lowry, a Biology and Government major in the College of Arts and Sciences from Bethesda, Maryland is our 61st JFK Award winner.

In 2016, the John F. Kennedy Memorial Award’s application form moved to a new platform, thanks to the good work of our friends in the Public Service Center. More accessible and flexible, the new system attracted more applicants for the award than at any earlier time in its history. With 49 contenders, the competition this year was formidable.

Jonathan is also President of the Class of 2016. His calling is fighting hunger, his career goal using the power of government and legislation to change food and nutrition policy to improve people’s lives. Jonathan believes that “food is a universal human right, and our country is responsible for providing sustenance to those who are destitute or disabled.” His drive to address the hunger problem is fueled by his understanding of the perils of separation from those around us. Echoing Elie Wiesel, he has internalized the recognition that “Indifference reduces the other to an abstraction.”

His is no mere aspirational goal. Jonathan founded the Cornell Food Recovery Network which, through the work of over 40 volunteers that he recruited and trained, has recovered some 4,800 pounds of usable food from Cornell dining halls for distribution to local non-profits that feed the hungry. “It was this organization,” Jonathan writes, “made up of my closest friends, bonded by shared commitment to fight hunger, that stoked the embers of my commitment to public service.” The Food Recovery Network has garnered numerous awards.


The JFK Award committee was deeply impressed by Jonathan’s ability to find and build on a moral calling in what is often regarded as uninspiring labor – working in the dining halls; for regarding his travels – in India and Ghana – as well as his internships in Washington as means to acknowledge the commonalities among us and to challenge the temptation toward indifference; and for planning work as a soldier-diplomat humanitarian in an Army Reserves Civil Affairs unit even as he pursues a civilian career fighting food insecurity at home. Jonathan will further all these goals by gaining credentials in law.

One of Jonathan’s reviewers noted that he “believes in the pursuit of a common good.” Another called him “one of the most impressive students I have known in over thirty years of university teaching.” The Class of 1964 calls him our JFK Memorial Award winner for 2016.

February, 2018 Update

Carolyn Neuman's serendipitous encounter with Jonathan  at the Cornell Alumni Leadership Conference (CALC) in February brought him together with the class officers. Jon spoke eloquently about his work with the Senate Judiciary Committee's Russia probe and particularly about the critical importance of a free press in sustaining democracy. This gratifying encounter renewed our enthusiasm for the JFK Award and the extraordinary Cornell graduates it honors.