Boxes for the food drive can be found in various buildings on campus. Photo by Delaney Hudson.
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Indianapolis is plagued with food insecurity. With 208,000 residents living in food deserts, many are unable to access nutritious and affordable food within a mile of their homes. Students of Color Allied in Healthcare (SOCAH) is in the midst of leading a month-long Harvest for Hunger Food Drive in partnership with 16 other student organizations and North Central High School. The final day to donate food is Nov. 30.
All donations will go to Crooked Creek Food Pantry (CCFP), which serves thousands of households a month in Pike Township, parts of Washington Township and all Ezkenazi Health Center Pecar patients. SOCAH is collecting non-perishable foods like canned goods, pasta, cereal and rice, along with some high-need items like peanut butter, canned meat, dried noodles, canned fruit and canned vegetables.
Rai Singh, a junior public health major and president of SOCAH, organized the food drive to bring food to residents in need and raise awareness of food insecurity in Marion County. SOCAH not only hopes to empower future healthcare workers of color, but also educate and work to close the gap of discrepancies in healthcare for communities of color. Sometimes this looks like educational events, like SOCAH’s recent Know Your Health event which discussed health literacy awareness, and sometimes it looks like actively helping the community, like this food drive.
“Food insecurity is a part of healthcare that is not often talked about,” Singh said. “A correlation to food insecurity is disparities within marginalized communities because within these food deserts live families that don’t have the socioeconomic means to provide healthy, adequate, nutritious foods for themselves and their families.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 70% of deaths in the United States are related to chronic illnesses. Without access to healthy foods there is a higher chance of developing chronic illnesses that often lead to health complications like diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
Of the many food pantries in Marion County, SOCAH chose to send donations to Crooked Creek Food Pantry to support local communities.
“We wanted to partner with Crooked Creek Food Pantry because we believe they’re doing an amazing job with distributing food to local communities around west Indianapolis,” Singh said. “I believe that SOCAH’s impact will be more felt in a more local food bank that’s closer to Butler University because outside the Butler bubble live underprivileged communities.”
Amar Kaur, a senior psychology major and SOCAH’s philanthropy chair, added that part of the inspiration for the food drive was the spirit of the holiday season, but beyond that, to get Butler students more in touch with the realities outside of campus.
“We all know about the Butler bubble,” Kaur said. “It’s a coined term on campus. But there’s so much more. There’s so many issues that [people] are going through. We all on campus are very lucky and privileged to have the type of support and security that we have.”
After collecting donations for the month, SOCAH members will visit CCFP to help volunteers stock the shelves.
Mary Ann Thaman, a volunteer at CCFP since her retirement in 2018, shared that one thing that piqued her attention about SOCAH’s offer was their willingness to help stock.
“Especially this time of year, we get a lot of food at the same time, [but] I’m really happy about [SOCAH] because they want to come in and stock the shelves themselves,” Thaman said. “We need 150 volunteers a week … You can imagine that serving 4,500 households a month is a pretty big job.”
In order to motivate students to donate, groups from the Efroymson Diversity Center are competing with each other in order to win a trophy. 13 of the involved Butler organizations are in the Diversity Center, including SOCAH. In addition to these organizations, North Central High School is also collecting donations.
“We have a cool trophy that we will be giving out,” Kaur said. “We’re hoping to make it an annual Harvest for Hunger Food Drive that everyone can be a part of, so the trophy is going to move between each organization from one [year] to another.” Students, faculty and staff can bring their donations to collection bins located in the Diversity Center, Dugan Hall and Pharmacy and Health Sciences Building. To keep up to date with the food drive, visit SOCAH’s Instagram, @socah_butleru.