Annual employee food drive returns amid increasing need

The annual Governor’s State Employees Food Drive kicks off Wednesday, Feb. 1, signaling volunteer departmental coordinators across campus to share information about the drive and organize creative fundraising opportunities for their colleagues.

Almost all donations will be made online, either through the special online giving page set up for the drive or by completing the online payroll deduction request form. Employees are encouraged to consider the annual governor’s challenge, asking state employees to donate the equivalent of at least $12 per month for a year.

The iconic food collection barrels that dot campus also will be back this year, and participating departments will accept shelf-stable foods to lend variety to pantry shelves, like spices, nonperishable proteins, and culturally diverse foods.

The annual food drive comes at a time when the regional food bank partner, FOOD for Lane County, is seeing an increase in community need for food.

“Over the fall we already started seeing an increase in pantry use due to the sharp increase in food and gas prices,” said Rozlyn Fox, community giving coordinator at FOOD for Lane County. “Also, many people have incorporated pandemic EBT benefits into their budgets and those will end at some point in the near future; as of now they’re supposed to end in March.”

EBT is the electronic benefits transfer system used for the Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps.

Last year UO employees donated the equivalent of 196,800 meals during the monthlong drive, one of the highest fundraising totals ever. The food drive steering committee has set this year’s goal at 130,000 meals.

“We all have seen our grocery bills rise, but we know this disparately impacts members of the community,” said Cami Thompson, assistant director of community relations and chair of the food drive. “We’re asking faculty and staff to give what they can, and if it feels doable, to consider meeting the governor’s challenge of donating $12 per month.”

The food drive runs Feb. 1 to 28. Around the O will publish stories throughout the month highlighting opportunities to get involved. For more information talk to your department’s food drive site coordinator or join the O365_Governor’s Food Drive team in Microsoft Teams. If you aren’t sure if your department has a coordinator, email to get connected.