Pellissippi State wins statewide food drive, collects equivalent of 15,411 items

Three students stack canned goods given during the Pack the Pickup campaign
Pellissippi State students in Professor Lisa Fall’s Project Design and Management class help “Pack the Pickup” with donations to the Pellissippi Pantry on Dec. 6.

The Pellissippi Pantry will be stocked with more than 15,000 new units of food, thanks to Pellissippi State Community College’s recent Pack the Pickup campaign.

The food drive, which ran Nov. 1 through Dec. 11, collected seven times the amount of food the college gathered the previous year.

“Last year we collected 1,904 items of food,” said Student Care and Advocacy Director Drema Bowers. “This year we set the lofty goal of 10,694, one item for each student enrolled at Pellissippi State this fall. We are thrilled to report that we surpassed our goal and collected the equivalent of 15,411 items.”

Pellissippi State’s Pack the Pickup campaign was part of the Tennessee Board of Regents’ annual food drive. TBR is the largest system of higher education in the state, responsible for governing Tennessee’s 13 public community colleges and 27 colleges of applied technology.

TBR Vice Chancellor for Student Success Heidi Leming announced Friday that 110,944 items were collected and donated to food pantries at the nine community colleges and 16 colleges of applied technology that participated in the food drive this year.

Institutions were grouped by student headcount to determine the top institutions, and Pellissippi State won for Tier 2 community colleges while Jackson State Community College pulled in the most items – 18,315 – as a Tier 1 community college.

“Pellissippi State was awarded an additional $6,000 not included in their total to further support their food pantry,” Leming added, referencing a $5,000 donation from Discovery, Inc. and a $1,000 donation from Lipscomb University for projects completed with Pellissippi State earlier this year. “What an incredible expression of kindness and generosity across the TBR system!”

Pellissippi State had some extra helping hands with its food drive this year. Professor Lisa Fall’s Project Design and Management students set up Food Drive “Service Stations,” in tandem with the college’s Pack the Pickup theme, to accept donations as well as share information about the Pellissippi Pantry and food insecurity among college students.

Right now the Pellissippi Pantry serves 125 participants, representing 398 total people in those participants’ households. That’s a significant increase from last year, Bowers noted, as the Pellissippi Pantry only served 130 participants during the entire 2018-2019 academic year.

Group of students with donation box for food drive
Jimmy Buckner, executive director of Scarecrow Foundation, an organization to fight hunger (far left), joined Pellissippi State Student Care and Advocacy Director Drema Bowers (second from left), Professor Lisa Fall (third from right) and Fall’s Project Design and Management students in helping “Pack the Pickup” with food drive donations on Dec. 6.

“We know we have students who don’t eat, who live in their cars,” said Fall, who also is serving as co-advisor of X-Hunger, a new student club devoted to supporting the Pellissippi Pantry. “This isn’t New York City. This is right here on our campuses, right here in our backyard.”

The college also collected donations at its first Wild Goose Chase 5K and during its annual Breakfast with Santa.

Pellissippi State had support from the community this year as well. Chick-fil-A locations in Turkey Creek and Oak Ridge held a fundraiser to support Pack the Pickup while other community partners collected for the food drive at their places of business: Regions Bank on Hardin Valley Road, Integrity HR Services, King University, Food City, Maple Street Biscuit Company, Cotton-Eyed Joe and Sitel.

“Food insecurity impacts every community, and it’s gratifying that so many local businesses partnered with us during this food drive,” Bowers said. “We look forward to continuing this important work together.”

Another thing that made a huge difference this year was online giving enabled by the Pellissippi State Foundation, she added. More than $5,500 in donations was collected online, and each dollar was counted as equivalent to two food items.

In total, Pack the Pickup collected 4,983 items while 11,018 items will be purchased from monetary donations given during the campaign.

“In addition to thanking those who supported us throughout the Food Drive, I would also like to acknowledge the support we receive all year long through our employee giving, monthly food drives and student clubs and organizations,” Bowers stressed. “That support from the Pellissippi State community keeps us going throughout the entire year.”