CSU, Chico News

Students Make Widespread Efforts to Gain Food Donations for the Homeless

Date: 11-13-2009

Joe Wills
Public Affairs

First-year students at California State University, Chico have teamed up with health and community services majors to sponsor a significant canned food drive and other events to benefit the homeless in the Chico community.

The events will culminate in the delivery of food to the Jesus Center Monday, Nov. 16. Students are working toward contributing more than 20,000 cans of food to the Jesus Center, where it then can be redistributed as needed to the Torres Shelter, Salvation Army and other organizations assisting the needy.

Health and Community Services professor Holly Nevarez, along with approximately 70 students enrolled in her Community Health course (HCSV 321), will count and sort the food Monday between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Nevarez said it was the third year her class had been engaged in a canned food drive and other projects to help the community.

She said topping 20,000 cans of donated food was the equivalent of approximately four to five months of food for the Jesus Center.

Several hundred first-year students enrolled in Introduction to University Life (UNIV 101) have taken a lead role in the community service efforts after reading “The Soloist,” this year’s CSU, Chico Book in Common that raises issues about the plight of the homeless and mentally ill. Students in HCSV 321 and many other classes on campus have also read the book.

First-year students and the Community Health students have organized the following events over the past two weeks to raise funds and food donations:

• A campus hip-hop and rap concert where the admittance charge was a minimum of three cans of food

• Tables at Safeway and Trader Joe’s encouraging shoppers to donate canned food

• A volleyball tournament in Acker Gym where competing student teams collected canned food

• A pancake breakfast at Trinity United Methodist seeking cash donations and canned food from those served

• A drive-through donation effort at the Jesus Center

• Discounted prices for customers bringing in cans of food at Trucker, Cal Skate and other Chico-area businesses

• Tabling by Glenn and Siskiyou Halls on campus

• Partnering with some Chico neighborhoods to solicit canned food donations

Five campus student organizations also participated in events to get food donations to aid the homeless: the Math Club, the Health Professionals Association, the Southeast Asian Student Association, Lambda Theta Nu sorority and Gamma Zeta Alpha fraternity.

Nevarez said community health students are also conducting assemblies at six area elementary schools to discuss the impact of hunger on people’s health and well-being and promote compassion for the homeless.

Nevarez said many HCSV 321 students have changed their minds about people who are homeless since being actively engaged in this year’s efforts. “A lot of stereotypes they held have changed,” she said. “They realize it’s more complicated than a homeless person simply needing to go out and get a job.”

Mackenzie Morris, a third-year student and peer mentor working with the Univ. 101 class, said the canned food drive and other projects have been an “eye-opener” to CSU, Chico first-year students. “It’s also been a great way for them to learn about our community,” she said.

The Peer Mentor program, a part of the CSU, Chico’s First Year Experience program, has successful, older students work with first-year students to help them make the transition to university life.