Putting the money where their mouth is

In the spirit of giving that often comes with this time of year, Blugold Dining held the Helping Hands Across America Food Drive Nov. 19, which was the organization’s most successful drive to date.
Blugold Dining Marketing Manager Kathy Binder said the drive collected 4,960 pounds of food and raised $872, all donated to Feed My People Food Bank.
“This was our best year yet,” Binder said.
Last year, the same food drive collected a little more than 4,000 pounds of food and just $250, Binder said.
Six campus groups, from student organizations, academic departments and residence halls formed teams which competed to collect the most donations. These alone raised 400 pounds of food and $515. This was the first year cash donations counted in these competitions. Binder said one dollar equalled one pound of food.
“Seeing as Feed My People can do so much more with actual dollars, it’s something new we started this year,” she said.
Feed My People Community Engagement Director Sara Nemec said it’s great to have UW-Eau Claire as a partner not only for donations, but also to raise awareness for their organization.
“We’re really excited and thankful for their support this year and it’s really awesome that it has been the biggest thus far,” Nemec said. “The future looks really bright with (Blugold Dining) and we’re more than happy to work with them again next year.”
Since Feed My People is a food bank and not a food pantry, it serves a wider range of people. They work with and serve different hunger relief agencies in the area, Nemec said.
Donations given to Feed My People are then distributed to various food pantries, community meal programs and homeless shelters in the Chippewa Valley. Fourteen counties in west-central Wisconsin benefit from Feed My People Food Bank. Nemec said that’s about 60,000 individuals.
For the purposes of the food drive, one dollar was one pound of food, but Nemec said Feed My People can turn a dollar into seven pounds of food, garnering even more value. Nemec said this donation will provide 7,967 meals to those in need in the Chippewa Valley.
The Helping Hands Food Drive is one of Feed My People’s biggest donations, Binder said.
“It’s really something that’s a motivating factor for all of our staff and to really encourage and motivate the whole community,” she said. “And the fact that those meals go to people in the Chippewa Valley.”
In order to make next year’s drive even bigger, Binder said Blugold Dining hopes to start sooner.
“There’s always room to increase awareness of the program throughout campus and throughout the community,” she said. “I think we’ll try to start even earlier next year and encourage groups to start collecting well in advance of the actual event.”