Courtesy of Mary Beth Hager

The turkey drive is organized by Cornell Students for Hunger Relief, pictured here at Club Day.

October 11, 2018

Turkey Drive Aims to Bring Thanksgiving to 410 Ithaca Families

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Partnering with community and on-campus organizations to fundraise turkeys for 410 food-insecure families in Ithaca, Cornell Students for Hunger Relief will be running its sixth annual turkey drive from Sept. 12 to Nov. 16.

The annual turkey drive began in 2012 after the student group, which works to tackle food insecurity, visited Groton Food Providers — a food pantry 15 miles from campus — and found that “there was a need for food for Thanksgiving at that pantry,” according to Juliet Remi ’20, president of Cornell Students for Hunger Relief.

Since then, Remi said the club has partnered with various food pantries to provide turkeys to local families in need each year.

This year, CHR is working with Groton Food Providers and Tompkins Community Action, a nonprofit that helps low-income individuals and households through early childhood and housing programs. The money raised will be donated to the two community agencies, which will then buy turkeys to distribute to local families in need.

“I think as Cornellians we have obligations to work to help the community that we live in,” Remi told The Sun. “We are not only asking students for donations, we want faculty, administrators … the Cornell community as a whole to be involved in this effort.”

According to Remi, food insecurity is a major problem in Ithaca that is worsening each year. In Tompkins County, one in five children is at risk of hunger and over 14,000 people are food insecure, Remi said.

Last year, the student organization raised enough money to purchase 300 turkeys. To reach the new target of 410 turkeys this year, Remi said CHR has increased its on-campus outreach by connecting with on-campus organizations such as Cornell Tradition, Cornell Fraternity and Sorority Life and outreach programs in the Public Service Center.

Remi said the groups have been “critical” to the campaign. While some groups donated to the turkey drive, others promoted the event to their partners.

“I think a challenge for fundraising is trying to convince people to give money for a cause that they might not be aware of or they don’t think about everyday,” she said.

So far, the club has rasied enough money to buy 40 turkeys. Remi wishes more people would get involved in the drive by donating money or signing up to table.

“Knowing that you are helping a family in need for Thanksgiving is what drives most people to donate,” she said.

In addition to running the annual turkey drive, CHR also volunteers at the mobile food pantry in the Downtown Salvation Army at the start of each month.

In the spring, the student organization will also run its annual Big Red Food Drive. Remi said 3000 pounds of food were raised last year for the Friendship Donation Network from leftover BRBs, which “was a large improvement from the year previous to that.”

“Part of food insecurity is a lack of access to a sufficient amount of nutritional food,” Remi said. “The coordinators of the Friendship Donation Network said we did a really good job getting nutritional food.”