Jul 02, 2020
Volunteer Taylan Bennett organizes donated food into storage bins at the Feed the Need food drive on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016. (Yezmene Fullilove/The Collegian)

Fresno community unites to ‘Feed the Need’

The Big Fresno Fair partnered with the Fresno State Food Security Project and CBS 47 last Wednesday to collect canned foods for the community in the “Feed the Need” food drive.

One in four people in Fresno County faces hunger as a harsh reality. “Feed the Need” is a program consolidated by the Big Fresno Fair, the Community Food Bank and The Salvation Army designed to benefit those in need.

Fresno State and CBS 47 hosted drop-off tents where donors were encouraged to bring canned food items. As an incentive, those who brought in 12 or more cans received a free weekday admission ticket to the Big Fresno Fair

Students from organizations on campus, including athletics and Greek life, gathered for the effort. Among the volunteers was university first lady Mary Castro.

“We’re really excited to see our students step up to help other students and to give back to the community,” Castro said.

In addition to the Community Food Bank and The Salvation Army, the Fresno State Student Cupboard was a benefactor of the program.

“We’re out here today to help collect and to share everything we collect with the community,” Castro said.

For students like Yovana Juarez, a sister of Phi Mu and third-year political science major, the program was a humbling learning experience.

“I feel like one of the things people struggle with the most is financial stability, so I feel like the littlest things like this help us and help the students here at Fresno State,” Juarez said.

Since the launch of the Fresno State Food Security Project, the program has developed multiple initiatives which include the opening of the Student Cupboard, which offers packaged food and hygiene products to Fresno State students at no cost.  

It is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Industrial Technology, Room 144. Students can shop for one bag of grocery items by simply showing their student ID.

Approximately 45,460 students have visited the Student Cupboard since its launch in 2014.

In an attempt to help serve families in the Central Valley, “Feed the Need,” along with sister-programs the Corporate Donation Outreach Initiative and the Fair-time Drive, have brought in 580 tons of food over the last seven years.

Big Fresno Fair communications director Debbie Nalchajian-Cohen was also present at the tent to welcome donors as they drove through with their canned goods. Like the Fresno State Food Security Project, the objective of the drive was to spread awareness of the food insecurity affecting the local community.

“We’ve been doing the “Feed the Need” community food drive for a number of years and we saw that our food intake was actually flattening as opposed to growing. What better organization than Fresno State to partner with? Together we can grow more awareness and help students and help the community. It’s kind of an obvious match,” Nalchajian-Cohen said.

Both “Feed the Need” food drives will culminate on Oct. 13 at the Big Fresno Fair where individuals can bring five cans to enter the fair for free.

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