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The Athens community is working hard to fight hunger during the holidays, with resources such as Cats Cupboard, sharing cabinets, and much more! Along with this, there are many free meals throughout town to support students and families who could use a hot plate of food. Video by: Rachel Cavera Read the full article here: Visit our website: Find us on social media: Instagram: Twitter: Facebook:

Food drive fundraisers assist local food pantries

As the holidays approach, it is not uncommon for food pantries to see an influx of people utilizing their services. 

On Wednesday from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. and Thursday from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., students from an Ohio University course titled Food and Power will be accepting non-perishable food items and hygiene products in front of Baker Center or the Honors House, 35 Park Place. 

Charles Lester, assistant professor of instruction, and his honors class, partnered with Southeast Ohio Foodbank to organize a Thanksgiving food drive. 

Lester got the idea of embedding a food drive within his food and power course because he wanted his students to engage with the community and give back. He said food banks are in a crisis period, which encouraged him to prioritize implementing a food drive within his course's curriculum. 

Gabrielle Loring, a junior studying biological sciences, is taking Lester's food and power honors course. She said she was excited to learn the class would be participating in their own food drive because she and her peers could actively get involved with the community. 

"This project has made me feel more connected to the community," Loring wrote in an email. "As I am not originally from this part of Ohio, the course has taught me a great deal about the region and both the successes and hardships faced by the area, as it applies to food. As a result, through my engagement in the food drive, I am happy to have an active role in the community instead of simply learning about it in the classroom."

Lester said he expects his students to experience a new outlook on food relationships due to the food drive. He explained that since students are engaged with the local community, they will be able to see how directly an issue of food insecurity is around them. 

"I think hits home in ways that a theoretical conversion might not necessarily do the same," Lester said. 

The food drive is in partnership with Southeast Ohio Foodbank because they offer services to Athens, Perry and Hocking counties, Lester said. 

The class will still be accepting charitable donations, too, through their website. Currently, the fundraiser has raised $670 in charitable donations. 

"This project resonates with me, and I hope that our food drive can help make the holidays special for everyone, including those in need," Loring wrote in an email. 

Similar to Southeast Ohio Foodbank, the Cat's Cupboard at OU offers free food pickup twice a month from its pantry located on the fifth floor of Baker University Center, according to a previous Post report. Donations can be dropped off on the second floor of Baker University Center at the donation station. 

Basic Needs Coordinator, Merilee Meyer, said Cat's Cupboard is experiencing a high increase in students accessing their services. Since the university is closed for holiday breaks, she predicts students will continue to access their services before and after the long breaks. 

"We rely on donations, whether it be in kind for food or monetary donations to help supplement the pantry," Meyer said. 

Recently, Cat's Cupboard broke 1000 people who have access to getting food from their pantry, Meyer said.

"We like to think in our office that giving comes with a natural feeling of goodness because you're helping your fellow bobcats and that in itself is a great reward," Meyer said. 

Overall, food pantries around the community seek aid from others to help assist those in need.

"Thanksgiving and the holiday season are an incredibly busy time of year for food pantries, and as we have learned in class, the pandemic and supply chain issues have made it increasingly difficult for food banks across the state to meet needs," Loring wrote in an email. "We hope that our efforts and donations will make a small dent in the shortfalls the food banks are facing, as all of our donations will go to those in the community in need of a little help."


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