“Sometimes students have to make a decision to buy food for their family or stay in school, and we find that unacceptable,” says Virginia Underwood, a student at The University of South Florida Polytechnic. To address that problem, Underwood and classmates Yuri Aguilar and Erica Garza started Fed With Love to help stock the USF Poly Food Pantry. Together they collected more than 900 donated food items for students and their families.
“We worked to fill the needs of the USFP student food pantry, to spread the word around the community while seeking donations, and to raise awareness of the needs of college students who are facing tough economic times,” says Aguilar.
Fed With Love arose from the Human Relationship Skills class, which required students to plan and coordinate a community service project.
“The course requires that they find a need in their community and then find a way to meet that need,” says instructor Patricia Young.
Because each of the three students lives in a different community — Underwood in Lakeland, Aguilar in Frostproof and Garza in Hardee County — they decided the community they had in common was USF Polytechnic. Recognizing a need on campus, they decided to support the Student Food Pantry, which was started in January 2010 by the faculty and staff of USFP in an effort to help students.
“We wanted to try to ease the burden for those individuals who are trying to better their education and still take care of a family or meet other needs and obligations,” says Garza.
She, Underwood and Aguilar say the Fed With Love project provided an excellent hands-on learning experience.
“We learned how to compromise, divide up work, respect one another and those who we collaborated with, and through the course of the project we began to develop citizenship, knowing we are helping our college community. We also learned that there are other ways we can help the community and are excited to do so.”
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