BYU’s Student Alumni Association (SAA) is rallying together with Utah Valley University to fight hunger in Utah County and unite the community in their annual fundraiser, United Valley Against Hunger Food Drive.
Over the next month, SAA will be holding small events to raise awareness and encourage donations.
SAA vice president of philanthropy Nick Merrill said by reaching out to both campuses, the combined student bodies of more than 70,000 will be “united in a cause bigger than either university.”
“It creates a sense of unity and this year more than ever, BYU and UVU need to work together to help the thousands of families struggling in our community,” Merrill said. “Both student bodies in both Provo and Orem areas will helps us spread awareness for the 347,370 people struggling with hunger in Utah — 113,190 of which are children — and raise more monetary and food donations.”
Zach Ashton, vice president of outreach with SAA, worked as a day-of volunteer last year, dancing outside the LaVell Edwards stadium dressed as a can of soup while encouraging people to donate. He noticed how excited kids got as they donated a dollar to help someone in need. Ashton said donating and volunteering allows students to develop empathy.
“We get so focused on ourselves and what we’re doing that we kind of lose sight of what really matters. When we work together to serve others, though, we are filled with happiness. We build connections with those whom we are serving as well as with those with whom we serve,” Ashton said.
Students might see this event as an excuse to get rid of the old cans of beans in their cupboard. However, The Community Action Services Food Bank has provided a list of most desired items for students to donate, which includes non-perishable items such as macaroni and cheese, canned meats (tuna, chicken, etc.), canned soups and chilis, ramen and canned fruits. If students are unable to to donate food items, they are encouraged to donate monetary funds.
These monetary donations can be significant in their impact. The donations are directly sent to Community Action Services where they are able to stretch one dollar to buy up to 15 pounds of food, Ashton said. “One dollar can feed a whole family for a day. That is so cool. If I skip my midnight run to McDonald’s, I literally feed five families for a day.”
According to FeedingAmerica.org, the average meal cost in Utah is $2.91. Small donations can go a long way.
Program director Caitlynn Boyer said it makes her proud to be a BYU student “to see how much students donate with their limited time and money.”
Students can drop off their non perishable donations in barrels that can be found on campus from Nov. 6 until Friday, Dec. 4.
SAA will be holding a Food Blitz on Nov. 11 and 18 where volunteers will go door to door to collect food donations.
A cupcake mural will be found in the Wilkinson Center for students to pick up a sweet treat with an optional donation on Nov. 12.
Volunteers will also be found outside grocery stores on Nov. 14 from 11 a.m to 2 p.m. and Nov. 17 from 5-8 p.m.
Though at times considered rivals, BYU and UVU are setting aside their differences to fight for a greater cause. Ashton said the schools are “working together to help the hundreds of thousands of Utahns who don’t have the same access to food that the rest of us do.”
Learn more details about the event on the SAA website.