Students gathered Thursday at the Sustain Mizzou Local Food Drive Pep Rally to prepare for the approaching week of fundraising. Volunteers made signs, posters, T-shirts and badges for the food drive.
Beginning next week, a group of students dressed as fruits and vegetables will promote the Sustain Mizzou Local Food Drive outside Memorial Union. The weeklong food drive supports local farmers and needy families in Columbia. Sustain Mizzou will purchase locally grown produce and then donate it to local food banks.
"The food drive supports sustainability and the local economy, which is important for the community and the world," food drive team captain Monica Everett said. "It is a way to be philanthropic in college without spending a lot of money. It's a small thing you can do that you can see actually making a difference in your community."
Traditional food drives do not donate locally grown produce to food banks.
"We are not only helping people who need food, but local producers," said Ben Moore, a member of Sustain Mizzou and the Environmental Science Club. "If we don't support the local producers, they will go away."
For the food drive, Sustain Mizzou has partnered with Little Sisters of the Gold Rose, Geography Club, Environmental Science Club, Greeks Going Green, South Hall Learning Community, Phi Sigma Pi and Anthropology Science Club.
"We want to fill time slots from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for an entire week and Sustain Mizzou could not do it alone," Sustain Mizzou Programming Vice President Tina Casagrand said. "It is also a good way to educate people who are outside of the local food realm to let them know why it is important to support local farmers and getting nutritious food to the food bank."
Casagrand said in the past Sustain Mizzou donated food to the Central Missouri Food Bank, but this year they are also considering the Central Latino Food Bank and the St. Francis House.
"(The food drive) really helps support the local economy," Everett said. "We use a local food source so we are not using fossil fuels to transport it from 5,000 miles away to feed someone in Columbia. It's all local and sustainable."
Food available at food banks is not always the healthiest and nutritious, Moore said.
"A lot of the food looked old or damaged," Moore said. "We give the food banks fresh food instead of mystery meat hot dogs or an old dented can of corn. It is good to know where your food comes from."
Casagrand said the food drive incorporates Sustain Mizzou's goal of sustainability and education.
"(Sustainability) involves thinking to the future and thinking beyond current needs," Casagrand said.