By ABBEY RUSSELL
Following the partial government shutdown that began in late December, supplies at food pantries across the nation began to run low. The depletion was the result of an increase in demand: millions of federal employees were forced to turn to food pantries after going weeks without a paycheck.
Charlotte Schwebel ’21, JohnMichael McCann ’21, and Elena Martinez-Vivot ’21 all took a special interest in how this national crisis was affecting the local community.
“Colorado Springs is a city very dependent on federal workers because of all the military installations in the city,” said Martinez-Vivot. This characteristic of the city locally augmented the severity of the situation and is what ultimately caught the attention of Martinez-Vivot.
Schwebel was also aware of the problem and was determined to help. She emailed President Jill Tiefenthaler over Half Block, asking if it would be possible to let local federal employees into Rastall’s to eat. Unfortunately, because of campus safety regulations, this idea couldn’t be implemented. Fortunatley, Tiefenthaler had another suggestion in mind. Care and Share, the biggest food pantry food distributor in Southern Colorado, reached out to Tiefenthaler to ask for assistance with the food shortage crisis.
Tiefenthaler passed this information along, and Schwebel, along with McCann and Martinez-Vivot, set up the food drive. They posted announcements in all the Facebook groups, hung fliers around campus, and set up seven conveniently located food drop-off stations. Just like that, the food drive was under way.
For Schwebel, McCann, and Martinez-Vivot, spreading awareness of this community issue was an important part of their efforts. Their goal is to reach 500 food items, ideally by the end of this week, but McCann admits that they will realistically have to extend it.
“We want to get 500 items to show that 1 in 4 CC students participated,” McCann said. “It shows mass participation and that CC students are aware of the community and [its] needs.”
“The biggest thing about CC is the fact that we are a campus that has a really high capacity to give,” Martinez-Vivot said.
McCann agreed, noting that “over 80 percent of freshman will ultimately have extra meal plan [money] at the end of the year.” Laughing, McCann said, “You can do this now and donate to a good cause and still have money to take as much C-Store food as you want on the road to the airport.”
“It’s super easy for a student to just go to the C-Store and buy a couple cans to donate,” Martinez-Vivot said, “I think that that’s a small ask from a student considering the situation.”
Once the drive ends on Saturday, Feb. 9, the collected food will be brought to the Care and Share warehouse, and the experts there will determine where the highest levels of need are and will distribute the food as they see fit.
That being said, the work doesn’t have to stop there. Hunger is a problem nationwide, and the local community, even with a fully functioning government, is no exception. CC offers ways to stay involved in similar outreach through BreakOut, which visits the Marian House shelter weekly, and the Colorado Springs Food Rescue, a program founded by a CC alum that works to eliminate food waste and feed the hungry.