r By Sara Davis
PROVO — With more than 266,000 pounds of food and $40,542.51 collected, the 2017 BYU/UVU food drive for Community Action Services and Food Bank is one for the record books.
Donors gave more money than ever before to the annual food drive, which happens the two weeks before Thanksgiving. And though the final figure is impressive, what’s more impressive is what Community Action can do with it.
“With a dollar they can use their leveraging power to buy 15 pounds of food, or feed a family of four for a day,” said Curtis Isaak, services coordinator for the Brigham Young University Student Alumni and Parents Program.
Dave Smith, food bank manager for Community Action Services and Food Bank, said generous donations from students and the rest of the community help the agency provide assistance to people in need.
“The effort of BYU and UVU students in the Valley United Drive this year has been tremendous,” he said. “It makes our communities stronger and will make a significant difference for many struggling individuals and families this holiday season.”
Most of the food drive donations came from the on-campus community, including students and employees, Isaak said. Also this year, the school made it easy to make donations online. Plus, Dr. Jeremy Pope, who teaches American Heritage courses at BYU, encouraged his students to give to the cause — they donated $5,000.
“That’s really cool to see students giving like that,” he said.
In addition, organizers — including dozens of volunteers from the schools — put together events to get people excited about giving.
One of the most popular donation drive events was the Cosmo mural, Isaak said. BYU Dining Services donated ingredients and made more than 2,000 cupcakes. And then with the help of food drive volunteers, they arranged the cupcakes into a huge mural of Cosmo, the school’s mascot. Once it was all set up, they sold the cupcakes and all money went to the food drive. This was the third year they’ve done that.
“That’s a huge thing,” Isaak said.
On other days, volunteers gave out hot cocoa or doughnuts for donations. They also had success with booths at sporting events — there was one night when there were football, basketball and volleyball games. They also had a booth for donations at the BYU-UVU basketball game at UVU.
BYU has been holding the annual food drive for about 25 years, Isaak said. For a while, it was a competition with the University of Utah leading up to the football game between the two schools. But now when the schools play each other it’s not around Thanksgiving. So BYU partnered with UVU for the food drive.
“We decided to partner with UVU and make a united effort, working together, not a competition,” he said.