Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Phi Sigma Pi hosts food drive

Phi Sigma Pi hosts food drive

Phi Sigma Pi is hosting a two-week canned food drive to benefit the West Alabama Food Bank that will conclude this Friday. Drop-off boxes are located at the Student Recreation Center and at every sorority house.

Every five cans donated is worth one Panhellenic point. Students can also receive service hours through the Service Learning Pro organization Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. by helping to collect cans from various locations.

The West Alabama Food Bank collects and distributes food to nine counties in West Alabama through outreach agencies, such as churches. Executive Director Henry Lipsey said it takes about 12,000 pounds of food every working day to keep the operation going, which amounts to about 3 million pounds a year.

“It’s just kind of a constant struggle every day to keep food coming in and keep food going out,” Lipsey said.

In addition to receiving the 2013 trophy for Beat Auburn Beat Hunger, which now resides at the Northport WAFB office, the University works with the nonprofit in other ways to provide food to residents of the community who live below the poverty line.

(See also “Local programs feed the hungry“)

Another such program is The Fifth Quarter, a project of Alpha Gamma Delta sorority and Phi Gamma Delta fraternity to salvage leftover food after football and basketball games. Lipsey said he estimates that the University donates close to half a million pounds of food a year.

Students can also receive service hours through the SLPro program by volunteering their time at the WAFB. Lipsey said there is most likely someone from the University volunteering at or visiting the food bank almost every day, and a lot of help is needed packaging food for their various initiatives.

These initiatives include a senior supplement program, which provides boxes of food to the elderly below the poverty line, and Secret Meals for Hungry Children, which places meals for the weekend in the backpacks of children in need. Lipsey said their main source of donations is retail stores such as Publix, which provides shipments of food at least once a week that would otherwise be thrown away, and retailers are eager to donate because they are relieved of liability associated with food distribution once their product has been donated to a nonprofit organization. He said other stock is either bought or donated through drives like this one.

The organization is also grateful for monetary donations that help with shipment costs, he said. Phi Sigma Pi has collaborated with the West Alabama Food Bank before with the soup kitchen, Service Chair Caroline Armbrester said.

“They’re so accommodating, so we were so happy to go work with them,” she said.

(See also “American Lunch serves up food for free“)

Armbrester said the organization’s work with food relief began during Hurricane Sandy, when one of their brothers asked for help through Facebook, and they shipped 200 cans of food to distribute in the brother’s local community. She said they then decided to focus on the Tuscaloosa area, especially after the April 27, 2011, tornado.

“We just want to keep giving back to our community that’s obviously done so much for us,” Armbrester said. She said they planned the drive during the spring because it is an off-season for donating, unlike holiday seasons.

President Katie Malone said Phi Sigma Pi focuses on service.

“College is honestly a really selfish time, so our organization thrives on service. We love it,” she said. She said she is proud of the work that her organization does in the community.

“The service event is something that really just shows how students can come together and make a difference in an impactful way,” Armbrester said.

Malone said she encourages anyone who values Phi Sigma Pi’s threefold goal of scholarship, leadership and fellowship to consider becoming a member.

“It’s just all the fun you would get in a Greek society without all the pressure of one,” Armbrester said.

(See also “BABH sets high goal for 20th year of competition“)

For questions about Phi Sigma Pi’s canned food drive, contact Caroline Armbrester at [email protected].

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