Turkey Basket drive benefits East Bay Food Pantry

The annual event gives their donations to the East Bay Food Pantry. 

A collection of baskets decorated with Dr. Seuss related images, filled with food items and children’s games, took home the “Most Creative” prize at this year’s Thanksgiving food drive. However, a decline in donations weighed heavily on some people’s minds after fewer donations were received for this year’s Turkey Basket event.

KC Ferrara, director of the Feinstein Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement, said 1,305 pounds of food were donated for this year’s event. In 2018, the drive collected 2,561 pounds of food. 2017 saw an even higher number, with a collection of 2,648 pounds.

Although all donations are greatly appreciated, Ferrara said they hoped to beat last year’s amount.

The drive has been been an annual event at RWU since 2002. Students, sports teams, organizations and administrative departments are invited to create food baskets. All of the baskets are donated to the East Bay Food Pantry (EBFP), an organization in Bristol that provides food to those in need. Each of the baskets are required to have all the makings of a Thanksgiving dinner, such as corn, stuffing and mashed potatoes, as well as a gift card with which to buy a turkey to complete it. 

The Financial Aid Office created the Dr. Seuss themed baskets for the drive hosted by the Feinstein Center. Michelle Cordeiro, assistant director of Financial Aid, described the group’s creative process.

“This was something really exciting for us to do and our work study students got really involved with it as well. It was just a team effort,” Cordeiro said.

The baskets were judged on Tuesday, Nov. 19 by two members of the EBFP based on three categories: most quantity, most creative and honorable mention. Other than Financial Aids’ most creative win, the Tutoring Center won most quantity and the Sports Medicine and Athletic Training Staff won the honorable mention.

“It’s always exciting to win,” said Karen Bilotti, associate director of the tutoring center. “I think it’s part of the ethos here, understanding that we are part of a larger community.”

According to the Rhode Island Food Bank, over 47,000 houses are food insecure. 

“It may look like a really affluent suburb in Bristol, but there’s a lot of food insecurity in Rhode Island, in particular in the East Bay,” Bilotti said. 

After the judging, the baskets were loaded onto Dining Services’ catering truck for delivery to EBFP.