Annual Turkey Basket Drive

Ben Crawley

Rows and rows of stuffing, mashed potatoes and other foodstuffs filled the GHH Atrium this past Monday, all to be donated to the East Bay Food Pantry.

This long-running tradition at Roger Williams has grown more popular in the past years. Students, faculty and staff create baskets full of non-perishable food to be donated to the East Bay Food Pantry, located right here in Bristol.

In 2017, they received 2,648 pounds of food, which was a 36 percent increase from 2016, and $1,633 in gift cards. The food from this year’s drive has not yet been weighed, however KC Ferrara, Director of the Feinstein Center for Service Learning & Community Engagement, indicated that they were on track to beat last year’s numbers.

“It’s great to see the generosity of the students,” said Nicki Tyska, the executive director of the food pantry. “Food insecurity is still prevalent, especially this time of year.”

East Bay Food Pantry covers the entire east bay of Rhode Island and runs a large food program for the less fortunate.

According to Feeding America, a non-profit that specializes in hunger and food insecurity across the nation, one in eight people in Rhode Island struggle with hunger and one in six children in the state struggle.  

Tyska and her partner, Karen Dietrich, the Programs and Operations Director at the pantry, handed out awards for quantity of food, most creative and an honorable mention.

The group on campus that donated the most food was Bon Appétit. Their design was modeled after a train, named the “RWU Express,” carrying cars full of food. The most creative award went to the Financial Aid office, who’s design featured a semi-truck full of food with added lights and engine sounds. The honorable mention went to the Bursar’s office who had a design featuring figures of pilgrims and a Thanksgiving balloon.

“We had so much fun making it,” said Michelle Cordeiro, assistant director of financial aid. “Our director came up with the idea and built it as a group,” she said, noting that it felt great to work together and donate to help out this food pantry.

“This food will go out and help families,” said Juan Carlos Payero, student development coordinator for community engagement. He said he’s thankful he was able to see a huge turnout  hopes this year’s numbers can top last years.