With so many dining halls and surrounding Blacksburg eateries, it may seem difficult for anyone living near Virginia Tech to imagine going hungry.
According to the World Food Programme however, approximately 870 million people in the world don’t have enough to eat. In response, students are getting involved to help fight the hunger crisis.
From long-standing organizations like the Marching Virginians’ Hokies for the Hungry to new programs like the 2013 Hokie Food Drive, many students are providing their services to local food banks through a variety of different efforts on campus.
However, now approaching its 17th year, Hokies for the Hungry is one of the longest standing food drives at Tech.
Katie Unkle, a sophomore psychology major and piccolo player for the Marching Virginians, has done her part for the cause.
“We walk around the parking lot where people tailgate and ask them to donate money or canned goods,” Unkle said. “It’s a lot of fun. If people donate we play songs for them.”
Another well-established donation program on campus is Hokies Against Hunger. Since 2009, Virginia Tech Services Inc. has offered students the opportunity to donate $1 when they check out at places like the University Bookstore and Dietrick Convenience Store.
In the four years since the program began, over $58,000 dollars have been raised and given in the form of food donations to local food banks.
“It’s human nature to try to go out and help,” said Don Williams, executive director of Virginia Tech Services. “My staff is very motivated. We have friendly competitions between the stores to see who can raise the most money.”
Every dollar donated to Hokies Against Hunger is used to purchase food items for local organizations such as the Montgomery County Emergency Action Program and Blacksburg Interfaith Food Pantry.
The organization is also considering expanding its efforts to Pulaski County and encourages student input and ideas.
The Hokie Food Drive 2013 is a new organization, which also embodies Tech’s spirit of service. On Sept. 7 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. before the first home game of the season, volunteers will be out at the University City Boulevard Kroger collecting donations from shoppers and those driving by the story.
All non-perishable food items are welcome from cereal to peanut butter, and will be donated to The Giving Tree Food Pantry.
“We want to teach our children the importance of community,” said Tom Wallace, Hokie Food Drive coordinator. “Montgomery County schools are just starting back and there is such tremendous need. The Hokie community is so strong and great and we just want to take advantage of people’s willingness to give.”
While all three programs focus on encouraging the Blacksburg community to help its neighbors in need, they each donate to different food banks and go about the collection process differently.
Hokies Against Hunger only accepts monetary donations, while “Hokies for the Hungry” places more of its focus on canned goods. Alternately, the new Hokie Food Drive 2013 asks for donations of all non-perishables.
Whether you can only donate a dollar, a can of soup or your time, there are plenty of ways to help the hungry throughout the community.