By Nathan J. Gallagher
The holiday season is a time for giving, and that includes canned green beans and tomato soup. Those are the types of gifts that Humboldt County’s Food or People food bank is seeking from community members, including HSU students, as part of their annual holiday food drive.
For over a decade, Food for People has teamed with the Humboldt State University to help collect food donations for community members and students dealing with food insecurity during this festive time of year. Last year, the HSU community donated around 850 pounds of food to the holiday food drive.
Student, staff and faculty members can make donations at one of the many conveniently placed food donation barrels around campus. However, keep the eggnog and Christmas cookies to yourself.
According to Laura Hughes, local food resource coordinator for Food for People, the organization is seeking healthy edible options.
“We’re looking for healthy, nutrient-dense, center-of-the-plate items like lean proteins (beans, canned meat), as well as whole grains, fruits, and veggies,” Hughes said. “We avoid homemade foods, sugary snacks and junk food, sodas and the like. In general, Food for People really tries to focus on improving the overall health and well-being of our entire community, so the type of food we distribute to people is one part of that.”
Established in 1979, Food for People has been a vital part of the social services network in Humboldt County. In the last year, Food for People has distributed over 2 million pounds of food and serviced nearly 10 percent of Humboldt County’s population.
Food for People does much more than just distribution nourishment. Hughes said the organization also works to educate people about proper food preparation and advocacy issues.
“Not everyone knows how to cook, so we provide recipes for the foods we offer, we teach cooking classes and give out samples, etc,” Hughes said. “We also go out into the community and teach people about hunger in our communities and on a broader scale, and ways they can get involved. We work on food policy and advocacy issues at various levels to fight some of the root causes of hunger and poverty.”
Humboldt State University senior geography student Alex Carroll became aware of Food for People’s holiday food drive after he noticed the donation barrel on the first floor of the library.
“I was just scoping the bulletin board in the library for any cool shows, and that’s when I saw this big barrel thing,” Carroll said. “I had heard of Food for People before but I didn’t know there was a place to donate on campus. It makes sense.”
HSU’s Center for Service Learning & Academic Internships community coordinator Stacy Becker acknowledged the team of student interns that help make the Food for People food drive possible.
“The only thing I can add is that our office has been conducting food drive activities with the help of our student intern team for over a decade in order to address food insecurity needs not only out in the community, but also for our HSU students right here on campus (also part of the community!)” Becker said.
The Food for People holiday food drive will wrap up its efforts on campus Dec. 11. Senior studio art student Emily Grant hopes to kill two birds with one stone.
“I was going to clean out my cupboards before Christmas break anyways, so I figured I’ll donate the stuff I’m not going to eat,” Grant said. “I know this time of the year can be hard for people, just want to help when I can.”