BOLIVAR — The signs said: “Put Food Here” and “Help Polk County Kids.” Over the four-week food drive, the piles grew in the SBU Behavioral Sciences Department, dorm lobbies, and the Student Life office.
When the donations were sorted, 22 full bags and boxes (some of them large) containing kid-friendly food were donated to the Polk County Food Bank.
According to Dr. Shelley D. Kilpatrick, assistant professor of psychology at SBU, “Students had fun remembering their favorite foods as kids and then filling the collection boxes. Macaroni and cheese mixes, cans of Spaghetti O’s, peanut butter and jelly and canned soup were among the most popular donations.”
The honor societies in the behavioral sciences department — Psi Chi, the national honor society in Psychology, and SCJS: Sociology and Criminal Justice Society — led the food drive.
The students expressed concern about the needs of Polk County children during summer months, when they don’t get free and reduced lunches at school.
“I brought in Spaghetti O’s and ravioli because I wanted the kids to enjoy their food,” junior Liz Robinson said.
She also indicated she had compassion for families that find it harder to feed their kids in the summer.
Senior Sara Robbins also wanted to provide nutritious foods for kids: “I wanted to donate peanut butter because it has protein, soup for the vegetables and canned fruit to make a well-balanced meal.” However, the honor society students weren’t the only ones involved. The social problems class brought in 54 canned goods for extra credit on the day they took their exam about homelessness and poverty.
They then challenged the social psychology class, studying helping behavior, to bring in more items on their test day. The social psychology students brought 78 items.
Students across the university preparing to move out of dorms and apartments found this a great time to donate goods to the food drive.
“I really enjoyed doing the food drive because I knew I was giving to people who couldn't afford to buy their own food,” junior Janna Wenzl said. “It makes you grateful for what you have. My dorm, Leslie [Hall], did a great job in helping out. I had to empty the box three times!”
The Polk County Food Bank, run by the Salvation Army, accepted the donations.
Duane Williams, a volunteer at the Salvation Army explained who receives the donations to the food bank.
“Here in Bolivar, we are serving somewhere in the neighborhood of 350 low-income families, roughly 1,000 individuals,” Williams said. “We have a number of people who fall in the low-income families. Also, food that is donated also goes to emergency situations — families impacted by house fires, tornadoes or the ice storm where other commodities aren't used or other hospital/medical situations where families need extra support.”
Williams also said the need for donations never goes away. Some low income families are in constant need of food.
The goal of the Salvation Army is to get families through tough times with a temporary handout. For the Salvation Army, a desire to help those in need stems from a faith commitment.
“We also have a certain degree of emphasis on religious matters,” Williams said. “It helps people be able to see God in action.”