About 1,500 food items totaling approximately $5,000 were collected at the end of last semester to help alleviate local hunger, following a Big Red Bucks campaign held by a student organization. The group, Cornell Hunger Relief, encouraged students to use their unused BRBs to buy food items to donate to the Ithaca Youth Bureau.The idea for the BRB campaign, according to Cornell Hunger Relief co-chair Vishal Vijay ’13, was to give students an alternative to “wasting” their extra BRBs by purchasing unneeded items or simply letting the BRBs expire at the end of the semester.About 30 volunteers donated their time during finals week and worked at donation booths at Robert Purcell Community Center, Appel Commons and Noyes Recreation Community Center, according to Vijay.“With the help of many volunteers, various student organizations, the Public Service Center and the co-operation of Cornell Dining,” boxes for students to drop off food donations were also stationed around campus, said Cornell Hunger Relief co-chair Jullia Park ’11.Seth Chua ’13, who was involved in the campaign from its inception, helped organize students and collect food from RPCC at the end of each day. He stored the food in his dorm before it was collected by the Ithaca Youth Bureau.“There were some points in time where there was twice as much food in my room that was donated than there was [my own],” Chua said.Other students also helped by transporting the food to the Ithaca Youth Bureau.“Our initiative took place during finals week, so [we] really depended on the goodwill of Cornell students to offer up their precious time. We found plenty of this across campus,” Park said.According to the Ithaca Youth Bureau, the donations fed 50 families for up to 3 weeks.For Vijay, who stayed in Ithaca after the end of spring semester to help the Ithaca Youth Bureau with the distribution efforts, “it was eye-opening to see [the families’] hardship first-hand, but also heartening to see the gratitude as we handed the brown bags filled with food to needy families,” he said.In the future, Cornell Hunger Relief plans to continue its BRB campaign each year and to create an online portal that will make it easier for students to donate their BRBs.“Overall, the experience [has been] great, and I look forward to [helping to] expand the project in the spring,” Chua said.
Original Author: Cindy Huynh