Since Tuesday VCU has hosted a food drive on campus to support the Central Virginia Food Bank.
The annual drive has been held since 2009, and the goal this year is to collect enough food and financial donations to feed 35,000 people. On Tuesday alone, the event saw a more than 25 percent increase in donations over last year’s drive.
“We’re still not out of the recession, and there is still a great need,” said Diane Reynolds, business services director and organizer of the first VCU food drive in 2009. “We’ve decided that this will be our annual VCU fundraising event and try to get the entire university engaged.”
“We’ve received a lot of help from VCU students,” Reynolds said.
Individual students, as well as student groups, have volunteered time to support the food drive by putting together donation bags, hanging posts and doing other jobs behind the scenes.
“It’s a way for us to give back to the community,” she added.
Part of the goal of the VCU food drive was to bring together various small food drives going on around campus and in the surrounding communities.
“There are a ton of small food drives around VCU, so we tried to think of a way to bring them all together,” said Rebecca Jones, business services marketing and public relations manager. “When you have a larger event, you get more people involved.”
Though food drives are held often in November and December around the holiday season, need for food often spikes during the spring.
“(The CVFB) really gets slammed for demand around April and May because they start preparing for the children who are in need of food in the Richmond area during the summer,” Reynolds said. During the school year children often eat at school, but not during the summer.
The CVFB has experienced a sharp rise in the need for their services particularly during the last two years.
“In the past two or three years we’ve seen the largest spike we’ve ever experienced in terms of need,” said Kristin VanStory, director of communications for the CVFB. “You hear that the economy is improving (but that) does not mean we’re seeing a decrease in requests for help.”
Rising costs of living and cuts in government aid have made it difficult for many families to put food on the table, according to VanStory.
The increase in need, however, has been met by an even greater response.
“Even though we’ve seen those (need) numbers rising, we’re also seeing our numbers rising in terms of donations and food coming in,” VanStory said.
The CVFB distributes 70,000 pounds of food per day and last year distributed 15.5 million pounds of food in total.
“We will beat that by far this year,” she said.
One pound of food roughly equates to 1.3 meals, according to VanStory. This means that the approximately 5,600 pounds of food collected on Tuesday at VCU is enough to provide more than 7,000 meals.
VCU has targeted both students and the general public by designating drop-off centers in easy-access locations such as parking decks and at the corner of Broad and Harrison streets.
Donations to the VCU Food Drive may also be made online at https://www.cvfb.org/DonorForm/tabid/97/Default.aspx by crediting the gift to the VCU Food Drive.
Drop-off locations are on the Monroe Park Campus at the West Broad, Cary Street, West Main and Jefferson Street parking decks, Commons Convenience (in the University Student Commons), Harris Hall Convenience Store, Cary Street Market & Deli, Shafer Court Dining Center and the Cary Street Gym. On the MCV campus, drop-off locations are, N, A, I and D parking decks, Eighth Street Parking Deck, Main Hospital and the Larrick Student Center.