Food drive steers in the right direction

By Jeff Green | July 17, 2007

Hundreds – if not thousands – of pounds of food are now crammed onto the shelves of Memorial’s modest-sized Campus Food Bank thanks to the efforts of staff and faculty at the university.

And, organizers of a unique fundraiser aimed at raising awareness about the need for donations to the charity couldn’t be happier.

Late last month, 20 units and departments from the St. John’s campus as well as the Marine Institute took part in the second annual 12 Days of Christmas in June Food Drive, donating more pounds of food compared to last year and putting huge smiles on the faces of the volunteers who help run the year-round organization.

“We were overwhelmed with the final tally,” said an ecstatic Kenny Curlew, community living programmer with Housing, Food and Conference Services and one of the organizers of the fundraiser.

From June 11-26, units, departments and staff members were encouraged to donate a suggested number of food item each day during the fundraiser. Points were assigned for each item donated and bonus points were awarded for collected the requested amount each and for any extra items that weren’t on the list.

The top three point getters were: Department of Biochemistry (1,476 points), the Queen Elizabeth II Library (1,126 points) and the Division of Student Affairs and Services (1,044 points).

Mr. Curlew said the commitment from staff and faculty goes to show how much awareness has been generated for this year round food bank.

“The university community is realizing about the needs that do exist,” he said. “More and more people in the university community are really getting behind the food bank and showing support and it is very much appreciated.”

For more than a decade, the food bank, located in the Corte Real Building near Burton’s Pond Apartments, has helped put healthy meals on the tables of clients. The centre is open to not just students, either. Staff and faculty members, as well as alumni are welcome.

Volunteers don’t ask clients about their financial situation – they simply want to help. In turn, clients simply need to provide their MCP and student number to receive a hamper.

The Campus Food Bank receives most of its donations from the Community Food Sharing Association which distributes food to similar groups around the province. Despite that support, Mr. Curlew said fundraisers like last month’s food drive are pivotal to helping keep shelves well stocked.

“The event is so important because a lot of people might not realize that the food bank operates year round,” he noted. “Summer is a slower time for us in terms of donations received but the need for food is still there. Prior to the food drive, the stock on the shelves was starting to get low and there were a number of items that are popular with clients that we did not have to offer consistently. The food drive helped us restock the shelves and to be able to offer items that have greater nutritional value than some other items that we normally do not run low on.

“In addition to the obvious importance of the food collected, the food drive was also important in helping us create more awareness of the existence of the food bank and the service it provides here on campus,” he added.

The items collected last month will keep food on shelves into fall, depending on demand.

The Campus Food Bank is open Monday and Thursday from 3:30-5:30 p.m. and 7-8 p.m., as well as Sunday from 4-5 p.m.

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