According to a recent Gallup poll, more than 22 percent of Delawareans struggle to put food on the table. Only two states have higher percentages of residents who do not have enough money for food.
The Food Bank of Delaware distributed 6.2 million pounds of food last year, providing help to one out of every four residents in the First State.
Many partners helped provide the food distributed by the Food Bank. For example, the University of Delaware’s Garden for the Community — a cooperative partnership between UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR), CANR Ag College Council, Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners and the Food Bank of Delaware — donated 16,484 pounds of fresh, locally grown vegetables in 2012.
While these recent efforts by UD and the Food Bank of Delaware have gone a long way to help those in need, there is still more that can be done.
With this in mind, a new program called Blue Hens CAN has been established, to help the entire UD community join forces to meet the needs of Delawareans straining to afford food.
“Over the years, various UD groups and organizations have successfully organized collections of food throughout the year,” says Susan Hall, deputy dean of the College of Health Sciences (CHS). “Our hope is that this unified, campuswide effort will synthesize all of these individual campaigns and ultimately result in a much larger donation for the Food Bank.”
“Blue Hens CAN is our service mission in action,” says UD President Patrick Harker. “I know this active, engaged campus community — a community that lives the principle of service every day — can come together to help end hunger in Delaware. I’m thrilled that we’re partnering with the Food Bank of Delaware — such a vital organization to so many families — and I’m excited to see the outcome of our efforts.”
“The support we have received from the University of Delaware community has been outstanding,” said Food Bank of Delaware President and CEO Patricia Beebe. “We are looking forward to a coordinated food drive amongst all members of the University in order to collect more food for Delawareans struggling to put meals on the table. We hope the excitement surrounding Blue Hens CAN will bring in not only food, but enthusiasm for helping to alleviate hunger in the First State.”
The program, a joint venture between CHS, CANR and the Food Bank of Delaware, is scheduled for the week of Nov. 12-16.
“The plan is that — thanks to the help of UD Parking and Transportation Services — each day of the week, we will have a UD bus parked at a different campus location for an advertised period of several hours,” explains CANR deputy dean Tom Sims. “Student volunteers, led by clubs in CANR and CHS, will be on hand to accept and record donations from various groups and help load them into the vehicle.”
The bus will be parked on north, east, west, south and central campuses for one day each during the week, with the exact bus locations to be determined at a later date.
Prizes will be awarded for participation, and the hope is that Blue Hens CAN will become an annual event, similar to the UD campus blood drive, where groups throughout the university join together to benefit a single cause.
“There is so much need, even in our small state,” says Sims, “and this is a great opportunity for our students, faculty and staff to make a difference.”
Article by Diane Kukich and Adam Thomas
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