UCanCrushHunger Manny
Area schools collaborate in the U Can Crush Hunger Food Drive to help northeast Indiana residents.
Photo provided by Mitchell Marks

Manchester Students Help Crush Hunger with Annual Food Drive

Mitchell Marks

Manchester University is accepting donations for the sixth annual U Can Crush Hunger food drive.

U Can Crush Hunger brings together area colleges to raise food for local communities. In addition to Manchester, six other regional schools—including Huntington University and Trine University—are competing to provide aid for students and community members in need throughout northeast Indiana. A traveling trophy is awarded to the school that raises the most food each year, an honor bestowed upon the University of Saint Francis in 2019.

According to Leslie Marlatt, Manchester’s associate director of career and service engagement, food collected at the school will benefit the Community Harvest Food Bank, local area partners and the campus food pantry located in the Chinworth Center. Marlatt coordinated Manchester’s involvement with the food drive.

Manchester began accepting donations Oct. 20 and will continue until Nov. 5. The collaborative food drive, meanwhile, began collecting these donations Oct. 26 and will run through Nov. 12.

The event is organized by the Community Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Indiana, a nonprofit organization that has distributed more than 14.25 million meals to residents during the past year, according to its website. In an article on wane.com, Community Harvest Food Bank Community Engagement Coordinator Maia Pfeffer explained that the U Can Crush Hunger food drive has raised more than 217,000 pounds of food since its inception in 2015.

The Community Harvest Food Bank website highlighted the food drive’s importance, explaining that there are nearly 80,000 food insecure people in northeast Indiana. That number is only expected to increase as the COVID-19 pandemic continues and the holiday season approaches.

Ensuring that the food drive reaches its goal of raising 50,000 pounds of food is especially crucial during COVID, according to senior accounting major Paige Collins. She is involved with U Can Crush Hunger as a member of the College of Business Club’s community outreach committee and explained that there have not been any food drives to aid Manchester’s local pantry this year because of the pandemic. “This year is even more important to do what we can to help,” Collins said.

Community Harvest Food Bank CEO John Wolf supported her statement. “It’s been a tough year, but we are hopeful that this friendly competition will continue to increase our resources,” Wolf said in an article on wane. com. “The goal of 50,000 pounds will be very important as we work to meet the demands this time of year.”

Sophomore accounting and finance major Elizabeth Schmidt echoed the same sentiment. Schmidt serves as the community outreach director for the College of Business Club and believes the food drive is important because it helps students on campus and residents in northeast Indiana communities. “Food drives do so much more than help feed people,” Schmidt said. “They help all members of a community receive the fuel they need to be their best.”

Helping the community in the way Schmidt described is the main reason Collins serves on the community outreach committee. Collins explained that she enjoys being able to help those around her and identified the food drive as one way to do so. In years past she has dropped off donations at the community food bank was impressed by the impact Manchester has had on the community. “To see how much food we are able to give them is amazing,” she said.

Manchester’s College of Business Club has organized a competition between students to promote involvement in the food drive, according to Collins. Interested students were asked to sign up to be part of a business professor’s team and donate food outside of that professor’s office. Collins explained that the College of Business Club contacts the local food pantry to determine which items are of particular need and then assigns these items more value in the team competition.

Manchester students and community members can donate until Nov. 5 in Chinworth 104, the College of Business, and the lobby of the Fort Wayne campus. Donations will also be accepted at the costume bingo event Oct. 30 and the Monster Mash Oct. 31. Additionally, the Chapel will begin collecting donations Nov. 2.

Suggested donation items include peanut butter and canned meats, tuna, vegetables and fruit. The food drive is also accepting monetary donations; each dollar donated to Manchester’s PayPal link counts as four pounds of food towards the school’s total.

No matter how people donate, Collins and Schmidt agree that the U Can Crush Hunger event is a positive addition for North Manchester and other communities across northeast Indiana. “I think this food drive is extremely important,” Collins said. “It really does make a huge impact."