Chandler Lawson, UTC alumna and Miss Chattanooga, was crowned Miss Tennessee 2012 and has been awarded more than $25,000 in college scholarships from her participation in the Miss America program, including the Miss America Organization’s State Academic Scholarship in 2011 and the Miss America Organization’s State Community Service Award in 2012.
Lawson, a UTC political science graduate, plans to attend the UT College of Law.
She is the founder and spokesperson for 5 Loaves 4 Kids, the 501(c)3 non-profit organization established in Lawson’s hometown of Tullahoma, Tennessee. With the help of principals, teachers and cafeteria workers, Lawson created a weekend backpack program that has served food to more than 50,000 children since the program’s inception in 2007.
To support 5 Loaves 4 Kids, Lawson created a “Cans for Kids” food drive and five additional fundraisers to help support the non-profit organization. She has personally raised more than $10,000 for her backpack program to date, which continues to thrive in her community.
“The program is self-sustaining. We’ve had grants, private donations, and a lot of help from civic organizations and church groups. This program pairs the most affluent and the least,” Lawson explained.
She said she would love nothing more for 5 Loaves 4 Kids to provide a template for other communities in Tennessee.
“According to Second Harvest Food Bank, one in four children in Tennessee are food insecure, meaning they may not have adequate food because of a lack of money or other resources. I want to lower that rate, if not eradicate it,” Lawson said.
For the next year, Lawson will be Governor Haslam’s Official Spokesperson for Character Education. She will address the unique needs of the schools she visits—she plans to talk about a variety of topics including bullying and cyber issues.
As she speaks to a variety of civic clubs ribbon cuttings throughout the state, Lawson will travel more than 70,000 miles around the state of Tennessee.
Her time will also be devoted to preparation for Miss America 2013. The scholarship-based pageant, in its 86th year, will be held in Nevada on January 12, 2013.