Campus food drive to bring cheer during holiday season

Marquette Student Government and the Raynor Memorial Library staff are currently collaborating to hold a campus food drive to benefit children, seniors and the working poor in the Milwaukee community.

The food drive will last until Dec. 18, with drop off boxes located in the Raynor Library lobby, at the Alumni Memorial Union information desk and in the MUSG office, AMU 133.

The drive will benefit Hunger Task Force, a Milwaukee-based nonprofit organization that collects and distributes food to local pantries, shelters and soup kitchens.

Students are asked to donate food items such as breakfast cereals, oatmeal, breakfast bars and canned food, such as tuna. Canned vegetables, fruit, soup and pasta are also needed.

Organizations like Hunger Task Force are in even greater demand this year because of the recent failure of the Milwaukee FoodShare program, a state-run emergency food program formerly known as Food Stamps.

According to a Hunger Task Force news release, a delay in the FoodShare application process meant more than 11,500 people seeking emergency food benefits from the state were forced to wait more than 100 days for their applications to be approved.

“These are people living in crisis who, through no fault of their own, are not getting the benefits to which they are legally entitled,” the statement said.

According to the 2008 American Community Survey, more than 23 percent of Milwaukee residents are living in poverty. This represents the seventh worst poverty rate in a large city in the United States and an 8.9 percent increase in poverty since 2000.

Hunger Task Force Executive director Sherrie Tussler said in an e-mail that Marquette must take an active role in helping to fight poverty, citing the many resources available through students and their families.

“In these tough times people with money, influence and power must commit themselves to ending hunger and poverty like never before,” Tussler said.

Tussler estimated that Hunger Task Force delivers food and services to some 50,000 Milwaukeeans. The organization distributed about 9.5 million pounds of food in 2009.

Though Hunger Task Force receives government funding, Tussler said it is imperative for Marquette students to “get involved” to help fight hunger.

Dana Hartenstein, HTF communications director, said donating to the food drive is a great way for students to help, but encouraged further involvement, such as contacting public officials and participating in community outreach activities.

Ryan Brennan, a freshman in the College of Business Administration, donated canned fruit to the drive on Tuesday. Brennan said he believes it is necessary for students to give back to the community.

“I feel that I am truly blessed in life and it’s always good to give back, especially during the holiday season,” Brennan said.