Students, faculty and staff at Tennessee’s public community and technical colleges collected 132,701 food items, including cash donations, for food pantries on their campuses, and food banks and other organizations in their communities, during the College System of Tennessee’s 23nd Annual Food Drive Challenge.
“I’m proud of the generosity and spirit of service we see on all our campuses,” Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor Flora W. Tydings said. “This has been another tough year, with the pandemic continuing and severe weather causing damage and loss across the state, and our students, faculty and staff came through again to help those in need.”
In addition to the collections at the colleges, employees at the TBR system office contributed $3,500 that will be distributed to campus food pantries.
The Annual Food Drive Challenge was conceived by the systemwide Student Government Presidents Council 23 years ago as a project to help fellow students and others in their communities in need. Students and the campus communities have kept the tradition going over the years.
This year, 18 Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (TCATs) and ten community colleges participated in the Food Drive Challenge from Nov. 1 to Dec. 12, collecting a total of 67,262 food items and $32,719.58 in cash donations. In compiling the total collections, each dollar donated counts as two items.
“This year’s Food Drive Challenge highlights the spirit of generosity that our faculty, staff, and students have across the College System,” said Dr. Heidi Leming, TBR vice chancellor for student success and coordinator of the Student Government Presidents Council. “While this past year has been especially challenging for our communities, this expression of support is evidence that people care and want to help their fellow Tennesseans.”
The colleges were grouped by enrollment and college sector to determine winners of the friendly competition across the system. Everyone is a winner in the challenge but the top-collecting institutions in each category were:
Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology
In addition to the Food Drive Challenge, many campus communities participated in other charitable events in their broader communities. For example, TCAT Livingston collected 4,193 food items for the local American Legion Auxiliary to help local veterans families have a Christmas meal. Volunteer State Community College donated 17,295 items to support various charities and food banks. TCAT Newbern donated to the Newbern City Hall for tornado relief. TCAT Chattanooga practical nursing students recently spent two days volunteering at the Chattanooga Area Food Bank to help sort donations, package food boxes and deliver donations to vehicles to serve 630 families in need.
The College System of Tennessee is the state’s largest public higher education system, with 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology and the online TN eCampus serving approximately 140,000 students. The system is governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents.