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April 15, 2010

Food drive runs through April

foodrivePitt’s 24th annual Partnership for Food drive is collecting non-perishable food items throughout April to help restock the shelves of the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

In addition to on-campus collection sites, Pitt again is holding a virtual food drive, where members of the University community can shop online for items that the Food Bank needs most. Food can be purchased at about half the retail price from the Food Bank’s suppliers and shipped directly to the Food Bank.

The online shopping link is Credit cards accepted are Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express and Diners Club.

A new feature this year: Donations from the regional campuses may be designated for a food bank or food assistance organization in their county. This is accomplished via a drop-down menu accessed during check-out on the virtual site.

For the fourth year, the value of all donations, including those purchased online, will be matched by the Office of the Chancellor.

Items such as peanut butter, tuna and salmon, meats, baby formula, chunky-type soups and stews especially are needed. Also welcome are dry cereal and household items including paper products, cleaners, soaps and toothpaste. Items that will not be accepted include home-canned or home-packaged foods and baby food in glass jars.

For more than a decade the University has ranked among the five most successful Pittsburgh-area employers in the region’s annual spring food drives. Over two dozen years, contributions from the University have totaled nearly 3 million units of food.

This year Pitt’s food drive includes an expanded student component, coordinated by the Student Government Board. Participating student organizations are competing for prizes, donated by Sodexo, for collecting the greatest amount of food and the most unused Dining Dollars donations.

Beyond the annual food drive, the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank in conjunction with UPMC Health Plan has convened the Ending Hunger Task Force. The task force is made up of a wide range of stakeholders with the goal of implementing solutions regionally to end hunger and malnutrition.

Serving on the task force from the University are John Wilds,  assistant vice chancellor for community relations, and Steve Zupcic, assistant director of community relations.

Pitt also is expanding its efforts to battle local and regional hunger throughout the year under the auspices of the University Senate’s community relations committee (CRC).

Those efforts include building a stable of volunteers for food repackaging and distribution tasks at the Food Bank’s Duquesne warehouse site; distributing food at pantries and shelters and directly to individuals in Braddock, McKeesport, Homewood and the South Side; helping to harvest food at local farms, and doing clerical work, such as mailings, data entry, research and phone calls.

In addition, CRC is supporting “Fourth Thursdays,” a volunteer effort of Pitt employees and students to distribute food at the warehouse on the fourth Thursday evening of each month. The end of the month is the Food Bank’s busiest time, because that’s when monthly pay checks run out. Lenzner, Pitt’s shuttle bus vendor, is donating transportation service to the Food Bank and back.

Weekday, evening and weekend hours are available for Food Bank volunteers. For more information on volunteering, contact Zupcic, coordinator of the Faculty and Staff in Service to Communities, at 412/624-7709 or

Online sign up is available at

According to Food Bank data, in Allegheny County more than 85,000 individuals are using emergency services through the Food Bank’s network of agencies. Throughout the Food Bank’s service area, more than 120,000 individuals receive supplemental groceries each month, including 37,000 children under the age of 18, 16,000 people over 65, 17,000 laid-off or disabled individuals and 35,000 from households with wage-earners who still aren’t making ends meet.

Overall, the Food Bank distributes more than 1 million pounds of food and other products a month to its 350 member agencies, which include soup kitchens, food pantries, senior centers, schools and homeless shelters.

Those who are in need of supplemental food or know someone who is should contact the Food Bank at 412/460-3663 ext. 456.

Collection boxes for Pitt’s annual Food Drive are available through April at the following locations:

William Pitt Union, 1st-floor information desk; circulation desks at all ULS libraries; Posvar Hall main floor; Barco Law School lobby and library; Starzl BST entrance lobby;

Cathedral of Learning ground floor; Parran Hall 1st-floor lobby; Craig Hall lobby; Biotech Center lobby;

SIS 5th-floor lobby; Scaife Hall 4th-floor and 2nd-floor elevator lobbies; Sutherland Hall main lobby; Litchfield Towers lobby, and Alumni Hall lobby.

Those needing bulk food pickups should contact food drive coordinator Steve Zupcic at 4-7709.

—Peter Hart

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