Oct 122005
Authors: Melissa Edwards

Although approximately 2,000 students from CSU volunteer each year as part of a service-learning requirement for class, the Larimer County Food Bank is always looking for student volunteers.

"We're very happy to have them. They do a lot for us," said Amy Pizzani, executive director for the Food Bank.

Jill Lysengen, the volunteer and development coordinator of the food bank said it has about 50 student volunteers each semester. She said a lot of the volunteers are from Spanish classes because approximately 50 percent of the people who come to the food bank speak Spanish.

Despite the fact that many volunteers are there as a class requirement, Lysengen does not feel any of them are unreliable or unwilling to work. She also said they are very flexible with student schedules.

"One student was in here volunteering and he said it was the highlight of his week," she said. "There are lots of interesting people and you can see the changes that you make."

The food bank only has 17 paid staff members, so without volunteers, the establishment would not run, Lysengen said.

"We wouldn't be able to move the food without them. Last year, we moved 4.9 million pounds of food. We couldn't have done that without volunteers," she said.

Because students choose where to do their volunteer work, she said it is never a problem getting students to help with everything.

"They don't feel forced. They feel excited about the impact," she said.

Although service learning usually only requires 10 to 20 hours, many students end up coming back and staying even after their hourly requirements have been met.

The Food Bank mainly serves single-parent families, senior citizens and youth from the Fort Collins area, according to the organization's Web site.

Lysengen said the two most important aspects about volunteering are giving back and getting food out to the community and getting something for yourself, but one is not more important than the other.

"It's a mutually beneficial relationship," she said. "We really appreciate (college students) anytime. They are helping fight the stereotype of typical college students."

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