Every year the University of Utah’s Alumni Association puts on a food drive throughout the month of November, during which members and its community partners go door-to-door, stand outside allied supermarkets and solicit at U football games to help the Utah Food Bank raise enough to feed the hungry during Thanksgiving.
Brynn Whitchurch has been assisting with the organization of the food drive for 12 years, and according to her, “It’s been hard these last few years. We used to raise a ton of money but we lost partners.”
Since the U joined the Pac-12 in 2011, the once-fierce rivalry between Brigham Young University (BYU) and the U has diminished, said Whitchurch. Without the competition fueling the desire to beat the other school in donations, BYU bowed out of the partnership. Businesses that once took part in charitable feud followed suit, until most of the dozens of sponsors either changed charities or discontinued giving altogether.
The 35 students on the Alumni Board, in conjunction with university partners like the Mighty Utah Student Section, the Union Programming Council and Greek Row have done what they can to pick up the slack, and according to Whitchurch, they’ve done a fantastic job in previous years making up the difference. Whitchurch said that just last year they had enough food to feed roughly 100 families of four for an entire year.
Even though the Alumni Association has had success in the face of increasing odds, the annual food drive needs all the help it can get, said Whitchurch.
The Utah Food Bank’s website says that, “One in eight Utahns, are at risk of missing a meal today. Even more alarming is that one in six Utah kids are unsure where their next meal is coming from.”
Although many people tend to donate cans to food drives, Whitchurch said, it is expensive to ship and sort them. She suggests giving money instead.
“Money donations to the Food Bank can actually turn $1 into eight pounds of food,” Whitchurch said.
By allowing the food bank to allocate the funds itself, it can purchase fresh produce for those in need or put the money toward transportation for the food.
The Alumni Association’s food drive ends Saturday, Nov. 25.