First-Year Service Project Helps Local Food Banks

First year Helps Food BanksThe first-year service project holds on-campus events annually with the goal of helping those in need in the community.

The project’s theme this year is Hunger and Homelessness. Events will be aimed at collecting and preparing items to be donated to local food banks. 

The project’s organization is mostly comprised of first-year students supported by sophomores who can lend their expertise in planning and organizing events. Getting involved also helps students meet each other and gain a sense of community on campus.

“Part of it is a leadership opportunity for them to figure out how to plan an event on campus, how to advertise, how to get people involved, all driven toward service,” said Susan Damaschke, Coordinator of First-Year Student Retention.

Involvement in the project gives students the chance to take ownership and decide what kind of project they want to do, Damaschke said. Many of the events are conceived, planned and produced by students in addition to college-wide events for all students organized by Damaschke.

The project also offers service opportunities to the rest of the University community.

Sophomore Ryan Murphy returned to the project this year as one of three student coordinators working with the new students on the project.

“It will be my job to help organize events and facilitate projects on campus,” Murphy said.

The first event to be held this semester is “Homeless not Helpless” on October 7. Participants will spend the night sleeping outside in cardboard boxes to experience what it is like to be homeless. Last year the event drew about 50 students.

“Throughout the course of the night we did several service related activities, such as a peanut butter and jelly relay as well as making no-sew blankets to be donated,” Murphy said. “It was a great way to begin to understand what someone who is in poverty deals with on a day-to-day basis, and really put meaning behind what we do.”

In partnering with Move for Hunger, a local nonprofit organization, the food prepared and collected will be delivered by their trucks to local food banks.

According to Move for Hunger’s web site, 50 million Americans struggle to find their next meal.

Move for Hunger provides boxes, supplies and weighs the food donated.

At this year’s student orientation, 200 pounds of food was collected and over 1,000 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches made. Move for Hunger then delivered the food to two local food banks, including Lunch Break in Red

Bank and Soup du Jour in Long Branch.

Move for Hunger was founded by Adam Lowy whose family owns a moving company.

“When people move, typically they throw away a lot of stuff and a lot of it is food,” Damaschke said.

Instead of letting the food go to waste, Lowy decided to start Move for Hunger and asks homeowners to donate the food instead.

Lowy’s organization has been working with the University for nearly two years. The ability of University students to come together and create something is amazing, Lowy said.

“Whether it be a concert, a football rally, or social change, University students can make a big impact when they put their minds to something good,” he added.

Move for Hunger operates in 36 states with the help of 150 moving companies.

“In just two years, we have collected over 330,000 pounds of food for our nation’s struggling food banks,” Lowy said.

In America, one out of six people do not have enough to eat. By the first-year student project partnering with Move for Hunger, students can do their part in helping to feed the hungry in the local community.

“Every time I see one of our movers collect food for their food bank, I’m motivated to collect more,” Lowy said.

Students said they have also found participation in the project to be rewarding and helpful.

Rachel Garduce, a sophomore and student coordinator, shared her experience working on the project last year.

“I’ve learned that it is so important to help others,” Garduce said. “Many people need help and

I’ve learned through this e x p e r i e n c e that it is part of a human being’s duty to help others.”

Student s also have the opportunity to work together toward a common goal.

It is so important to get involved with the community and to raise awareness on global issues that affect many people’s lives, Garduce said.

“If you don’t get involved, then how do you expect the world to be a better place? That’s something to think about.”

“It put me in touch with many different resources on campus,” Murphy said. “It allowed me to work with other first-year students in a goal oriented environment and taught me how to use time management and planning skills to accomplish goals for upcoming events.”

Any student interested can attend the first-year student project meeting every Thursday at 3:30 pm in room 202A in the student center. If you cannot attend and would like more information, email Damaschke at sdamaschke@

PHOTO COURTESY of Susan Damaschke