Office of Volunteer Programs holds 7th annual Cans Across the Quad food drive


By Meghan Webber

As a part of September’s Hunger Action Month, the University’s Office of Volunteer Programs is organizing the 7th annual food drive, Cans Across the Quad, which will donate goods to the Eastern Illinois Food Bank.

Cans Across the Quad, which takes place from Sept. 21 to Sept. 29, is a week-long event that encourages registered student organizations, RSOs, campus offices and individuals to donate canned goods to benefit the food bank and promote hunger awareness.

“They distribute about 70 percent of the food that is used for agencies like food pantries and homeless shelters throughout 14 eastern Illinois counties,” said Lindsay Okazaki, staff member at the Office of Volunteer Programs and junior in LAS.

John Race, program advisor at the Office of Volunteer Programs, said their goal is set high at 25,000 meals, representing its 25th anniversary as an office.

“Each 1.2 pounds of food is six meals, so with the number of interested groups who are participating, we believe we can hit our goal amount,” he said.

In order to promote awareness for the event, the office set different monetary awards for those who donate the most cans. Winners in the RSO category will be rewarded $200 for first place, $100 for second place and $50 for third place. The winner in the campus office category will be rewarded with an Einstein Bros. and Bagels breakfast, while the winner in the individual category will be rewarded with a $25 gift card to Einstein Bros. and Bagels.

“We have decided to partner with Eastern Illinois Food Bank because they distribute to a wide audience and they have been great partners in the past,” Race said.

A nationwide study titled “Hunger in America” revealed that the food bank and its agencies serve more than 116,000 people in Central Illinois each year, said Kristen Costello, development relations manager at the food bank.

“That’s an unduplicated number, so we’re serving about a fifth of the population,” Costello said.

All canned goods will be collected on Sept. 29 at Anniversary Plaza near the Illini Union and in the SDRP lobby in the Ikenberry Commons from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. The week prior serves to promote and educate individuals of the event.

According to Race, the Quad Shop in the Illini Union and I-57 in the Ikenberry Commons will run specials to encourage students and members of the campus community to contribute to the food drive.

“Contributions from Cans Across the Quad can make a difference in so many lives. One meal can keep hope alive or help someone make it to their next paycheck,” said Okazaki. “I think we see the issue of hunger in the world and feel a sense of hopelessness, but what we don’t realize is how significant our contribution is to even that one person we helped feed.”

Meghan can be reached at [email protected]