UCA SGA, in partnership with UCAPD and the Bear Essentials Food Pantry, collected 58.2 pounds of food during the campus’ first Food for Fines food drive the week of Nov. 22.

“This was really [SGA and Bear Essentials Food Pantry’s] project, we just lent our support to it,” UCAPD Cpl. Michael Hopper said. 

This is the pantry’s busiest time of the year.

“We thought ‘what better way than to help the students with parking tickets [and] also to ensure that the Bear Essential Food Pantry is being stocked throughout the semester as well as the summer?’,” junior SGA Vice President of Operations Jamaal Lockings said.

Students, faculty and staff were given the opportunity to eliminate two parking tickets with values of $10 to $15 for donating eligible food items. For example, 6 cans of vegetables would eliminate a $10 ticket and 10 would eliminate a $15 ticket.

“Twelve people donated and had their tickets waived, which totaled to 58.2 pounds of food donated,” SGA sophomore representative Tyler Van Brunt said.

This is the first semester that SGA and UCAPD have hosted the initiative, but they hope to start a tradition and continue holding drives every semester.  The goal of the program is to keep the pantry stocked and to bring awareness to students on campus about the food pantry.

“Over the summer, the executive board saw that the food pantry needed help,” Lockings said. “Through the summer, we were all donating and sending out mass emails about donating, trying to ensure that [the food pantry] doesn’t go dry again, because we do have a population on campus that relies on that for their next meal. We want to ensure that everyone is being taken care of, whether that be faculty, staff, or anyone who needs it.”

Next semester, SGA is planning to hold the drive earlier in the semester to waive as many tickets and get as many donations as possible, although no date has been set yet, according to Van Brunt.

"The Bears Food Pantry is extremely thankful for the involvement of SGA and UCA PD and their partnership to care for our community. For a pilot, this year's program was very successful … and we anticipate even more participation in the future," food pantry coordinator Chris Craun said.

Bear Essentials Food Pantry is located in Old Main 108. To find out more about the program, visit uca.edu/foodpantry.

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