All food and cash donations collected at SOU during the seventh annual Governor’s State Employee Food Drive – which runs through February – will go to the Student Food Pantry and SOU students with unreliable access to food. Payroll deductions will support food assistance programs at ACCESS – the region’s community action agency.
“The most needed items at the SOU food pantry include boxed meals, soups, oatmeal, peanut butter, canned tuna, tortillas, canned fruit and other non-perishable items,” said Jill Smedstad, the environmental and community engagement coordinator for Student Life.
Recent studies have shown that as many as half of all U.S. college students have unreliable access to nutritious food. The Food Pantry provides SOU students who are in need with as many as 10 items of nonperishable food or hygiene supplies each week. Donations through the Governor’s Food Drive go directly toward supporting the Food Pantry.
“Overall, the total pounds collected (last year), including the pounds equivalent to the monetary donations, was 10,697,” Smedstad said. “This is equal to about 8,000 meals. This year we are hoping to increase both pounds of food donated and monetary donations through employee payroll deductions, with a goal of raising the equivalent of 10,000 meals.”
Red collection bags are expected to be delivered soon by campus mail to all SOU employees for the food collection competition among campus buildings, which is coordinated by the Student Sustainability Center. The bags can be filled with non-perishable food items and returned anytime this month to collection barrels located in each building. Employees may also sign up for monthly or one-time payroll deductions and submit the form to Michele Barlow in Human Resources.
Those who donate will help students in need and also have a chance to win awards and prizes for their good deeds. SOU Dining will offer a prize of coffee and snacks to employees from the building that collects the most pounds of donated food, with a dollar considered the equivalent of four pounds. All employees who sign up for payroll deductions will also be entered into a drawing for various prizes.
Other events associated with the food drive include a free concert, featuring student and faculty musical groups, presented by SOU’s Oregon Center for the Arts. Admission to the “Feed Body and Soul” concert – at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 11, in the Music Recital Hall – will be two cans of food or a cash donation at the door. Performing artists include Left Edge Percussion, SOU Jazz Combo, SOU Chamber Choir, and Mazama Saxophone Quartet.
SOU Athletics will collect nonperishable food donations at the women’s wrestling match on Feb. 20, and at the mens and womens basketball games on Feb. 21.
“While the Governor’s State Employee Food Drive is focused specifically on soliciting donations from employees, students who can are certainly encouraged to donate as well – at athletic games, at the ‘Feed Body and Soul Concert’, or by putting cans in any of the barrels around campus,” Smedstad said.
The Student Sustainability Center will host a day of service with ACCESS at its food warehouse in Medford, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 29. The entire SOU community is invited – students, employees, alumni, and friends and family. Transportation to and from Medford will be offered, and lunch will be provided. Sign up or find more information about the event online at tinyurl.com/SOUvolunteer2020 after Feb. 1.
Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer