What do you get when you combine food, baseball, and a little healthy competition? A Food Fight.
The Jane B. Gearheart Full Circle Campus Food Pantry is going head-to-head against the Tiger Pantry at the University of Missouri, Columbia in their annual Food Fight food drive to bring awareness to campus hunger.
Both the U of A and the Mizzou food pantries will collect food and monetary donations between now and April 2. Each canned good or dollar donated equals one point toward the individual team total.
Campus and community members are invited to give donations at the Full Circle Campus Food Pantry on Mondays 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; Wednesdays 3-5 p.m.; Thursdays 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; or at a Union Mall donation drop-off on Fridays 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
The food drives will come to a conclusion at the Arkansas vs. Mizzou baseball game on April 2. Final donations will be collected at Baum Stadium, and the winner of the Food Fight will be announced during the game.
Claire Allison, program coordinator for the Center for Community Engagement, said the Food Fight highlights the dedication of pantry student volunteers on college campuses.
“We look forward to this competition with the Tiger Pantry every year,” Allison said. “Regardless of who wins the most points, events like these serve the broader purpose of bringing awareness to the issue of campus hunger and highlighting the essential work of campus pantries.”
Katherine DeRossette, food programs graduate assistant for the Center for Community Engagement, said this drive is special to the campus community.
“We do several food drives a year, but there’s something about this one specifically that the students really respond to,” DeRossette said. “Our student volunteers at the pantry have strong ownership over developing the Food Fight, so it’s exciting to see them empowered by their involvement.”
The Food Fight food drive is just a small example of the exciting and expansive programs the pantry offers campus. Since opening their doors in February 2011, the student volunteers have worked diligently to provide food and personal products to members of the U of A community.
The Full Circle Campus Food Pantry’s mission is “nourishing bodies, empowering minds, building a community of compassion.”
But Allison said the pantry takes the mission even a step further.
“To me, the mission of the pantry is two-fold,” Allison said. “To provide an experiential learning environment for students who are passionate about serving their community, and to provide a dignified, welcoming space to meet clients’ nutritional needs so that they may focus on excelling as students, staff members, and faculty.”
Involvement at the pantry provides an intersection between learning leadership skills, applying those skills in a real-world setting, and educating about the serious national and global problem of food insecurity.
DeRossette said she recognizes the influence the pantry has had on her, both personally and professionally.
“I feel like I am more in tune with the realities of hunger,” DeRossette said, “on our campus, in Northwest Arkansas, the state, even the nation. Because of my experience at the pantry, I am now applying for jobs in the food hunger community. I have just grown so much from working with students in this program, so I’m excited to share that with others.”
To Allison, personal and professional transformations like the one DeRossette experienced are common for the student volunteers working at the pantry.
“Our pantry leadership committee serves for a full year, and we encourage each leadership team to set new goals and priorities for that time,” Allison said. “The pantry changes dramatically with each new student leadership committee, and in turn the students are also changed by their work.”
Although student development is a beneficial product of the pantry, DeRossette said the student leadership never lose sight of their mission and who they are serving.
“Seeing clients come into the pantry and how they respond to us, how thankful they are, it’s just wonderful,” DeRossette said. “That’s why we do it.”
“Regardless of who wins the most points, events like these serve the broader purpose of bringing awareness to the issue of campus hunger and highlighting the essential work of campus pantries.”
Want to support student programs like the Full Circle Campus Food Pantry?
Learn more about how your generous gifts can help support student programs like the Full Circle Campus Food Pantry in the ROCK Camp program. For more information about giving to the food pantry directly, contact Carolyn Collins at 479-575-5007 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Development Graduate Assistant, Division of Student Affairs
Matthew Matney is a graduate assistant with the Development office for Student Affairs at the University of Arkansas. Matt helps to tell the story of the Division of Student Affairs by highlighting outstanding students and featuring programs through his writing. Matt is pursuing his M.A. in Communications at the U of A.