Employees exceed overall and food pantry goals for food drive

In a time of increasing community need, the University of Oregon’s workforce came together in February to support the annual state employee’s food drive, donating the equivalent of 150,294 meals.

Between payroll deductions and an online giving website for the drive, UO employees donated $49,544 in funds and collected another 2,214 pounds of nonperishable food. Most donations go to the regional food bank partner for the main Eugene campus, Food for Lane County, though employees could allocate their donation to another Oregon Food Bank Network partner through payroll deductions.

The final day of the month, Feb. 29, was dedicated to raising funds for the Student Food Pantry. While the pantry is supported by Food for Lane County to cover their food needs, its van was in need of a tune-up, and extra carts and heavy-duty shelving can help it better meet the growing need from the local college student population. The fundraising goal to supply these was handily met, and then some.

“This special day of giving for leap day was very exciting,” said Connie Browning, student food pantry coordinator. “These funds will really enhance our operations for the volunteers.”

Over forty university departments participated in this year’s drive, each represented by at least one volunteer food drive coordinator. These departmental coordinators set up fundraising opportunities for their colleagues and did outreach to educate coworkers about the stark need for food and funds in Lane County and across the state.

“We have a small steering committee that sets the goal for the drive each year and plans the parameters, but the departmental coordinators are the ones who get us there,” said Cami Thompson, assistant director of community relations and chair of the food drive. “Every year, they impress me with their creativity and diligence.”

Creativity abounded, as campaigns both in-person and hybrid captured the imagination and brought in funds. One department, Information Services, brought in one-third of their overall donations by promoting “Save or Shave” the beards of two employees. The results were split — one beard got to stay and the other is to be shaved.


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By Around the O