La Grande, Ore. – On the heels of a record-breaking year in 2022, Eastern Oregon University will once again partner with Community Connections of Northeast Oregon (CCNO) for the 2023 EOU Food Drive.
In 2022, EOU’s Food Drive was able to secure over 19,000 meals for residents who utilize the CCNO food bank. The annual canned food and donation drive continues this year until Feb. 28.
The food drive is part of a larger statewide effort with the goal of raising 20,000 pounds of nonperishables for the Union County food bank.
“We are so excited to provide an opportunity for students to get involved in the community and make a difference. The amount of time and effort our students spend on the annual food drive project is truly inspiring! In addition to the impact the food drive has on our students, the impact on our local community is incredible – this year more than ever. The cost of groceries in our communities is up at least 10% overall — closer to 15% when we look at the cost of meat, fish, dairy, and other pantry staples,” Food Drive Coordinator, Kate Gekeler said.
EOU sports teams will compete across campus to see which team can collect the most food. In 2022, the EOU women’s wrestling team won 1st place, followed by the EOU football team in 2nd place.
Student coordinator Alayne Bennett hopes to bring awareness to the issue of food insecurity and wants to remove the stigma of not having enough to eat.
“We are here to help, and that is what is important, there’s not enough awareness,” Bennett said. “Getting food to students so they are able to focus on school, getting them the food, they need is important, no judgment, just help.”
Interested in donating? Food drive volunteers will be present at the February 22 basketball home game, as well as the women’s wrestling events set to take place on February 26. The teams and volunteers request that donations, whether monetary or canned goods, be brought to these events. In addition to this, volunteers will be present at Safeway every weekend in the month of February.
“Our goal this year is to break 20,000 pounds of food raised, whether that be done through monetary donations or good old fashioned canned food,” Gekeler said.
EOU staff can have a portion of their paychecks automatically deducted by submitting a form. Kate Gekeler will accept donations in the Learning Center at Loso. Or they can be dropped off
at Lindsey Venutolo in Financial Aid.
In Oregon, one in eight Oregonians experienced food insecurity in 2021, according to the Oregon Food Bank Network. Many Oregonians are still recovering from the economic impacts of COVID-19, as a result, the food network has seen an increased need for food assistance in recent months.