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August 22, 2012

DWU freshmen to conduct annual food drive

The Annual DWU Freshman Food Drive brought in nearly 4,000 pounds of food in 2011 for the Salvation Army Food Pantry. The food drive is set again for this year from noon to 3 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 26, in Mitchell.

MITCHELL – Get ready Mitchell, the Annual DWU Freshman Food Drive is coming to a porch near you this Sunday.

Every fall, freshmen and transfer students are encouraged to take part in orientation weekend, which is filled with activities to help new students acclimate to the campus, the community and meet new friends. One of those activities is the annual freshman food drive for the Salvation Army Food Pantry. Freshmen and new students will canvas the city, going door-to-door asking for donations. This year’s drive will be from noon to 3 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 26.

“It’s a little nerve racking going door to door asking for stuff, but it’s really cool to see people who are all ready for you to come and give you a whole bag of food,” said Valerie Hummel, Utica, a junior at DWU and member of the Student Ministry Council, which organizes the event. “Last year … we had so much food, it was mind-blowing. There was no space in the pantry area, so that was really awesome to experience how giving the people of Mitchell were.”

Last year’s food drive was an all-time record of 3,994 pounds, up 1,594 from the year before.

“We keep track partly because we split into teams and the students like to get competitive with how much they can bring in, but it’s also neat to see how things progress over the years,” said campus pastor Brandon Vetter. “We have stats going back to 2004, when we had just over 3,000 pounds, but we’ve also had lower years. That can be because of the recession, it can also be because some food – like cereal and boxed meals – don’t weigh as much, so if we have a year with a lot of those for donations, the overall weight is ‘down,’ when really giving isn’t.”

Some of the items most needed by the Salvation Army Food Pantry are: spaghetti sauce, cereal, dried and canned beans, soup, boxed meals, dessert mixes, macaroni and cheese, tuna and pasta.

The food pantry is at about half-capacity, said Sheena Loudner, Salvation Army case worker.

“Donations this summer were great – a lot of people do several little food drives, (and) we had more donations from Coborn’s and Wal-mart on dry grocery and produce, so that’s helped a lot,” she said.

Loudner said that the pantry is in the highest demand when households have to make budgeting decisions, such as back-to-school supplies and even the Corn Palace Festival. She expects the pantry to have a lot of traffic this Friday and the following Monday.

According to the Salvation Army’s statistics, 2,622 bags of food were distributed in the months of May through July this year.

The DWU food drive fills the pantry past capacity, and will last for a while, but the food pantry always welcomes donations and will look forward to the next major drive by the Boy Scouts in October.

“The food drive introduces new students to the DWU motto of ‘Sacrifice or Service’ and gives students an opportunity to give back to the Mitchell community,” Vetter said. “The food drive is a major source of items to restock the food pantry and it’s a pretty cool thing to say we worked together to put a ton of food on those shelves.”

DWU is a private, liberal arts university associated with the Dakotas Conference of the United Methodist Church.  For more information about Dakota Wesleyan University and other service learning projects, go to www.dwu.edu.

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Last updated: 8/23/12