Passion it’s a word describing a strong emotional connection to a cause, activity, or person. That word can also be used to describe this week’s Remarkable Woman Lisa Vaughan.

Over the years, she has left her mark on the Tri-State through her work in many non-profits, including the Junior League of Evansville. If you weren’t familiar with her name before the pandemic, you probably are now as she spearheads Feed Evansville.

“Food is an essential part of every human being in the entire world.”

But three years ago, as the world shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, food insecurity increased. And the effects were felt right here in the Tri-State.

Lisa Vaughan received a phone call from Evansville City Councilman Alex Burton.

“By the time we got off the phone, we had formed Feed Evansville.”

It’s a grassroots initiative that is connected to the Food Commission, which was started by Lisa and Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke as part of the Reopening Task Force.

Since March 15, 2020, handing out food has become part of Lisa’s routine.

“In 2020, I handed food out every day except three days. So from March 15 to March 15 of 2021 it was daily.”

2021 saw three to four times a week. And last year, food was handed out monthly.

And when she’s not giving out food, Lisa is talking with local farmers and raising money.

“To be in a state and a country that has an abundance of food, and have something like access be an issue. We can overcome access.”

You may have spotted Lisa and the Feed Evansville truck not only in Evansville, but in parts of Kentucky as well.

“When you have to choose between paying your electric bill, your water bill, or eating, that is extremely mental health stress.”

Having grown up in Cleveland, Ohio, Lisa is familiar with that stress at times.

“I didn’t have a secure upbringing as a child. And I remember a local church bringing food to my home, and my mom crying because she wasn’t sure how she was going to feed a handful of kids.”

That support drives Lisa to step up to help the Evansville community today.

“When you see a need, and you understand that need, and you have the knowledge of the need, and you have some solutions to the need, that you take action upon it too.”

And she inspires others in the city to join her in taking action of feeding families.

“You don’t have to have a title. You just need to have the drive. And I think that’s just part of who I am. It’s part of my DNA. I don’t see things as barriers or obstacles. I see them as something I need to walk around.”

One such obstacle, a community food share in December of 2022 outside of Hartke Pool. Cars lined up for hours to take home food.

“I didn’t have enough food. And that keeps me up at night. It worries me, the thought of a child going to bed hungry. It worries me of a mom having to worry about how she’s going to feed her family or a father feeling that he’s not able to provide.”

Lisa’s commitment to feeding families started long before the pandemic. Lisa credits the Junior League of Evansville, of which she has been a member for the past 16 years and served as president, for educating her on food insecurity in the area.

The league decided the issue was a major need in the community.

“Bringing food to the neighborhoods and discovering the food deserts was the problem. And we worked with the community members and got a lot of input.”

Today, the Junior League operates a neighborhood food market. It’s a truck that brings food directly to where people live.

Lisa looks at that experience and the league as family.

She now works to inspire female leaders in the club as they once mentored her.

“To look at other women, and say how amazing you are. And I think everybody needs that. Everybody needs someone who sees you for who you are.”

Lisa is the first child in her family to graduate high school, and the only one to go on to college.

She says mentors from her church and her teacher Faye Johnson were the most instrumental to her success.

“She’s the one that really encouraged me to apply to college. And she always took time for me. You know always. She always made time for me to talk to her in between classes.”

Lisa takes those moments from her youth and shares them now as a board member for the Evansville Boys and Girls Club and Cops Connecting with Kids, and she serves as the Youth Family and Children’s minister at Newburgh United Methodist Church.

And she’s just getting started.

Lisa loves the Evansville community’s spirit to pitch in at a moment’s notice, and she is ready for the future.

“Have delivery systems within our food programming across the board. That we increase our knowledge of food security in general. That we also increase types of programs we have. That we have relief, restore and restoration all the way around.”

Lisa is currently working on a community kitchen with other leaders. She also takes her in depth knowledge of the Junior League to help other clubs across America and around the world.