VCU launches largest food drive in history in honor of Rao’s inauguration

Mechelle Hankerson
News Editor

In addition to typical inaugural celebrations for President Michael Rao, VCU is holding a university-wide food drive to benefit FeedMore, the umbrella organization for the Central Virginia Food Bank, Meals on Wheels and the Community Kitchen.

FeedMore serves an estimated 226,000 people in central Virginia and last year provided approximately 14.6 million meals to families and adults.

The Pound Out Hunger inauguration food drive aims to collect enough protein products – specifically, peanut butter and canned tuna – to provide for 500,000 meals. If the goal is achieved, Pound Out Hunger will be the largest food drive VCU has ever held.

The presidential inauguration planning committee chose a food drive because hunger and food supply to community organizations is an ongoing and critical need, especially after Hurricane Irene and during the colder months of the year.

Kathy Earhart, a representative from FeedMore, said the fall is when a lot of food banks’ supplies begin depleting.

“This time of year our stocks are very, very low,” she said. “Protein is one of the most expensive things that we have to purchase if it doesn’t get donated in order to meet our promises that we’ve made to the community to help deal with hunger relief.”

Earhart said there are few large-scale food drives during the summer months, which leaves local food banks’ supplies depleted. She also said that during the summer, children are out of school and parents who could rely on subsidized meals from the school system must provide two more meals a day for their children during the summer. Earhart said this also contributes to the depletion of food during the summer months.

“There’s more of a need, and more people are needing food in the summer,” Earhart said. “We get very depleted between not getting as much food donated and having a very high need during (summer).”

With the increased cost of peanut butter and tuna, these popular sources of non-perishable protein are also diminished. On average, FeedMore distributes about 650 jars of peanut butter and 960 cans of tuna each day through the food bank.

“Protein is the thing that’s probably donated the least amount,” Earhart said. Earhart added that a lot of the Richmond residents FeedMore serves are children, and because of this, protein is an integral part of FeedMore’s donations to the community.

Peanut butter and canned tuna will be collected on both campuses, but for students who don’t have spare peanut butter or tuna, they can do their part in Shafer Dining Hall. Dining Services is hosting their semi-annual “Waste Not, Want Not” week, when students are encouraged to eat as much as they want, but to try not to waste any food.

For every pound of food waste reduced, Aramark will donate a pound of food in support of Pound Out Hunger.

FeedMore is also accepting monetary donations through their website, but Earhart said in addition to tuna and peanut butter, supporters can also donated dried beans or soups with a protein source.

For more information on the Pound Out Hunger Food Drive, visit www.poundouthunger.vcu.edu. For a complete listing of other events in honor of President Rao’s inauguration, visit 2011inauguration.vcu.edu.

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