‘We crushed it!’ Pellissippi State wins statewide food drive for similarly sized community colleges

Pellissippi State volunteers pack and sort donations from Faith Promise to the Pellissippi Pantry on Nov. 20.
Pellissippi State volunteers pack and sort donations from Faith Promise to the Pellissippi Pantry on Nov. 20. This was a socially distanced outdoor event, with volunteers limited to two per hour for safety reasons.

Pellissippi State Community College crushed the (friendly) competition this semester, collecting the equivalent of 31,412 items in College System of Tennessee’s 22nd Annual Food Drive Challenge. 

Pellissippi State was the top institution in its tier during the month-long food drive that ended Dec. 8. 

Students, faculty and staff at Tennessee’s community and technical colleges collected nearly 76,000 food items, including almost $28,000 in cash donations, for food pantries on their campuses and food banks and organizations in their communities. 

This is the second year in a row that Pellissippi State has collected the most food items in its tier, but this years 31,412 items more than doubled last year’s 15,411. 

“COVID-19 obviously has been a big factor,” said Drema Bowers, director of Student Care and Advocacy for Pellissippi State. “We are home more and on social media all the time. People can’t escape seeing food lines. It’s made people more aware of food insecurity.” 

Pellissippi State was helped this year by the Pellissippi State Foundation’s Giving Tuesday campaign. Thanks to matching donors, gifts made to the Foundation and earmarked for the Pellissippi Pantry before and on Dec. 1 were doubled. Because TBR counts each $1 donation as the equivalent of two cans of food, during that time period, $1 equaled four cans of food, Bowers noted. 

“I also think that now that many of us are working from home, we don’t have the cost of our commutes and that $7 or $8 lunch some of us were buying each day,” she added. “Those of us who are still fortunate to have our jobs may have had a little more to give this season.” 

Pellissippi State was further helped by community partners including Church of the Savior, Faith Promise Hardin Valley Church of Christ and the Scarecrow Foundation. These partners not only gave monetary donations to the Pellissippi Pantry, but also contributed boxed and canned items. 

“We are very, very appreciative of all our community partners,” Bowers said. “We crushed it!” 

The Pellissippi Pantry, like other College services, had to adjust its processes this year due to COVID-19, but still has served 70 participants in fall 2020. Participants were able to pick up a five-day supply of groceries once a month during the semester, and those who were unable to come to campus for food distribution were mailed gift cards to grocery stores. 

While all the food collected by Pellissippi State stays with the college to serve Pellissippi Pantry participants, Bowers and her Student Care and Advocacy team also keep students apprised of resources in the community and teach students how to apply for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits. 

For more information about the Pellissippi Pantry, including how you can donate, visit www.pstcc.edu/advocacy/pantry. 

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