Rollins College and Sodexo team up to fight hunger

College collected more than 20,000 pounds of food for local food bank.

Feb. 16—As part of Sodexo’s annual Helping Hands Across America campaign, the 3,226-student Rollins College, in Winter Park, Fla., collected 21,744 pounds of food, which was donated to the local Second Harvest Food Bank. The first year of the program the college collected 3,777 pounds of food. The second year the number grew to 12,293 pounds of food. The third year the school collected 16,201 pounds.This year's goal was 20,000 pounds, which was exceeded with 21,744 pounds. Gerard Short, area general manager with Sodexo, says the program has been able to grow because of its efforts reaching out to the community.

“We ask the folks here at the institution to donate in several different ways,” Short says. “They can donate with cash and credit at any one of our point-of-sale locations on campus. They can donate using discretionary funds and they can donate online. We also solicited larger donations from some of our trustees and community members. The chamber of commerce hosts an event where all the money collected goes toward this campaign.”

In addition to gathering donations from students and the community, the department also reached out to other departments at the university.

“Every year the Second Harvest food bank provides bags to us,” Jayme Bartlett, marketing coordinator with Sodexo, says. “This year we took all those bags to all the departments on campus, and each department filled the bags with food. Some filled the bags more than once, which made this year the most successful in terms of faculty and staff participation.”

To encourage even more donations the college purchased its goal of 20,000 pounds of food and set it out in the main dining hall as a display so students, faculty and staff could see exactly what the goal looked like.

“It was just massive,” Short says. “It was just for visualization. When people see that [huge pile of food] they are more inclined to give. We tell them, ‘We need to raise enough money to donate this food.’”

Short says the key to growing the program each has been advance planning and organization.

“Organization is the key to our success,” Short says. “This year we are going out even further into the community asking for donations. We don’t know how we’re going to do it yet, but we want to raise 25,000 pounds of food, which doesn’t seem like a lot but you have large schools that do this that don’t even raise 2,000 pounds of food. We’re really proud of the fact that we are able to raise that amount of food for our local community.”