Columbia residents have until Friday to donate to a drive at MU that’s raising money to purchase food for the Central Missouri Food Bank. The five MU organizations involved hope to raise $1,000 for fresh foods this week and will have canisters set up around campus next week so people can donate canned foods as well.
The goal of the food drive is three-fold: to make fresh food available for people seeking assistance, to purchase food from local farmers and to cut down on the environmental effects of shipping in food from other places. Don Moore, food solicitor for the food bank, said it provides food to 91,000 people living at or below the poverty level and rarely receives donations of fresh meat, eggs and cheese. Fruits and vegetables only represent a small portion of what is donated.
With the money raised, fresh foods such as these will be purchased from within 50 miles of Columbia. Jared Cole, the event’s organizer, said this will simultaneously cut down on pollution emitted into the environment, as well as help the local economy.
“Most food travels 2,500 miles before it gets eaten by consumers,” Cole said. “It’s been estimated that if just 10 percent of food for consumption were from local sources, it would result in a reduction of 6.7 million to 7.9 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.”
Cole said local farmers have trouble selling their products beyond farmer’s markets due to barriers to entry with large retail chains.
“Large grocery retailer fees make access difficult for local farmers,” he said.
Chelsea Higginbotham, president of the Collegiate Farmers Union, said the food drive also serves as an educational tool for the community.
“The major reason the Collegiate Farmers are involved in this is because it’s a good way to educate the public about locally produced, quality food,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity and a great cause, helping people to gain access to local markets.”
The food drive is backed by 40 to 50 volunteers from Sustain Mizzou, Missouri Students Association, the Food Circles Networking Project, the Collegiate Farmers Union and the Sociology Club.
“The reason for the food drive is to help malnourished people in America,” said Charlie Edelen IV, a volunteer with the Sociology Club. “Specifically in Missouri, it would help not only poor people but its rural farmers.”
Cole said the best part about the food drive is that it allows donators to have an impact immediately.
“This is something we can do right now to help solve these problems,” he said.