It is a segment of video many of us are familiar with: commercials featuring starving, emaciated children, and a narrator pleading for our help to save the little ones in a far-off land.
Their stories are heart breaking, and certainly worth our attention and efforts; yet, the sad reality is we do not have to look to a foreign country to find starving and impoverished children – we simply have to look next door.
According to the American Community Survey, an annual report by the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 5,159 Fort Collins children living below the federal poverty line in 2006. It is an even more startling figure when compared with statistics from just six years before, which showed 2, 216 children living below the poverty line in the city, which means there has been a 132 percent increase.
An estimated 25,603 people live in poverty in Fort Collins, a 62 percent increase from the 15,835 people living under the line in 2000.
What such an increase means for CSU, and the Fort Collins community is a question that can be answered in many ways. For one Larimer County agency, the answer is clear: they need our help.
The Larimer County Food Bank served 6,401 residents in 2000, a number relatively small compared to the 14,173 different people they served last year.
This year, according to an e-mail from the assistant director of the LCFB Chuck Gill, the food bank has increased its Food Share program to 8,400 people per month; 8,400 people who would struggle to literally survive without the aid from the LCFB. It is a number made up of not just the homeless, but people we encounter in our daily lives who simply do not have the means to eat without assistance.
“We primarily are not serving homeless people,” said LCFB Executive Director Amy Pezzani in a Coloradoan article August 29. “The majority of people we serve are working, tax-paying individuals. To me, the significance of 14,173 people living in Fort Collins needing to get free food is startling and something this community should be paying attention to.”
At CSU’s Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement office (SLICE), we are paying attention to the problem and are helping to answer it.
This Thursday, student organizations, faculty and staff will bring pounds upon pounds of non-perishable food to the Oval, all part of a tradition that defines what it means to be a CSU Ram.
Last year’s Cans Around the Oval set a new all-time record, raising over 140,000 pounds to donate to the LCFB; an effort which allowed many Fort Collins residents to eat throughout the holiday season and beyond.
This year, it is our office’s goal to continue our record-breaking trend – we have broken the previous year’s total 19 out of 20 years – and donate over 150,000 pounds to the LCFB. It is a goal we can’t achieve without the help of everyone in our community.
Any non-perishable food item will be accepted an sent to the food bank; more specifically, the LCFB needs some items more than others including: canned tomato products (not ketchup), canned fruit, peanut butter and meals in a can like ravioli, chili and Spaghetti Os.
Cash donations are also accepted and are incredibly helpful; a $1 donation equates to around $10 of food the food bank can purchase because of discounts they receive from producers.
This week we will be accepting donations at the SLiCE office, in addition to accepting donations all day Thursday on the Oval.
Additionally, the Associated Students of CSU has pledged to match any donations brought into their office this week, up to 2500 pounds. Both offices are located on the main floor of the Lory Student Center, and hope to be as full as grocery stores with canned food by this Thursday.
Please encourage all your friends and community members to get involved with the Cans Around the Oval effort, and help feed your Fort Collins neighbors who so desperately need your help.
Jake Blumberg is a senior technical journalism major, and the special events and public relations coordinator at the SLiCE office. SLiCE publishes a column occasionally in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.