Fueling fundraisers

Penn State University develops program to help dance marathon participants.

Published in FSD C&U Spotlight

THON participants cheer as the final record-breaking fundraising totals are revealed. This year, THON raised over $13 million dollars to fight pediatric cancer.

In the same way, the committee also labeled certain foods as “THON Recovery” so that students would know which foods would help their bodies rebuild post-marathon. The recovery foods included items such as string cheese, hummus and pretzels, nuts and Greek yogurt—all items high in protein and amino acids. The committee also included recovery drinks like chocolate milk and coconut water.

Richard says that the THON labels increased sales of these items both before and after THON weekend, especially in the c-stores. “We saw a huge uptick in how quickly these items moved,” he says. “The labels were a great identifying factor for students that took the pain out of figuring out which choices to make.”

In addition to the labels, foodservices THON committee also put together vendor-supported snack packs for moralers—student volunteers who help keep the dancers fueled—to pick up during the weekend. The snack packs were nutrition-focused and included Greek yogurt, water, fruit and pistachios. According to Richard, the snack packs ran out quickly, since moralers could walk into the c-stores and find nutritious items for the dancers without having to shop.

Food Services also wanted to make sure it found ways to recognize its student employees who were involved with THON. Dancers received 7-foot banners signed by their peers as a reminder of their support, and I-THON buttons were distributed to foodservices student employees who volunteered with THON in any capacity.

According to Megan Renaut, Penn State junior and THON hospitality director, THON’s partnership with Food Services was a natural fit. “It was one of those moments where you think, ‘Why haven’t we been doing this all along?’” she asks. “They had so many amazing ideas, and we couldn’t be more grateful.”

Renaut also says that all of the initiatives Food Services put into place this year were well-received and well-utilized by students, especially the portable snack packs. “It was a great boost for dancers between meals,” she adds.

Richards considers the partnership a success as well, and he’s looking forward to what future involvement will bring. “We had a great first year, and we’ll definitely be looking to raise the bar,” he says.

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