U Holds First Annual Volunteer Connection Fair


By Allison Stuart, News Writer


The Volunteer Connection Fair, hosted by the Union Programming Council and the Bennion Center was held on Thursday, Sept. 8.

The event took place in the Union Ballroom and provided students with knowledge about volunteer opportunities available to them. It also boasted fun attractions such as free snacks and drinks, a cookie giveaway, a photo wall and a scavenger hunt.

Alyssa Henrie, the community service board director for the programming council, explained the goal of the event was to spread awareness of volunteer opportunities in the Salt Lake area students can get involved with.

“We have about 35 nonprofit and volunteer organizations just to connect with students and tell them what they do because sometimes it’s hard to find volunteer opportunities by yourself,” Henrie said. “All of these organizations are looking for people to help.”

There was a wide variety of organizations for students to check out, from healthcare to the arts. At their individual tables, the 35 groups had representatives from organizations such as the American Red Cross, Sundance Film Festival, Intermountain Healthcare, the Children’s Center Utah, the Feed U Pantry and the Ronald McDonald House.

Henrie said many of the groups were excited about the event because it was the first time they’d been to the U to talk about their organizations and the off-campus volunteer opportunities available to students.

One of the on-campus volunteer opportunities promoted was the Food Recovery Network, a national organization with chapters across the country. University of Utah students Dahlia Kraus and Ritika Nayan are volunteers with the group and tabled the event.

Nayan, who works with the Food Recovery Network as a partnership liaison, said this event was important for the organization because its volunteer numbers have been lower than usual since COVID-19 started spreading two and half years ago.

“So hopefully by tabling and just spreading the word, we’ll get some more people to show up,” Nayan said.

The organization’s website notes that “Food Recovery Network is the largest student-led movement fighting food waste and working to end hunger in America.”

Kraus, who works as the Dining Services sustainability intern, explained the goal of the organization is to eliminate food waste on campus by donating food that’s going to be wasted to the Rescue Mission of Salt Lake, a multi-site homeless shelter that works with the U dining services and the Food Recovery Network.

We go to the dining halls and we get all the leftovers that they have that is going to waste,” Kraus said. “We package it in our own containers, weigh them, label them and then we transport them to the Rescue Mission.” If the food waste from the dining hall can’t be repurposed for another meal, such as using leftover rice to make a stir fry, it’s given to the shelter.

There were also several tables set up in the middle of the ballroom where students and other willing participants could sit down and make a yarn hat using a special type of loom to donate to The Rescue Mission of Salt Lake.

Henrie said she felt the first Volunteer Connection Fair was a success.

Within the first like, 50 minutes, we’ve had 52 people check-in,” Henrie said. “I think people are definitely interested. And it’s been good to see them walking around and talking.”

The Volunteer Connection Fair will now be held annually.


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