In an effort to bring awareness to the issues that single mothers may face, Binghamton University’s chapter of the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), the Women’s Student Union and the Multicultural Resource Center hosted the annual Herstory Food Drive in honor of Women’s History Month.
The food drive was a two-part event, with volunteers devoting two weekends to distributing notes to residents of Vestal neighborhoods asking for donations and collecting plastic bags filled with food. According to Ellie Plotkin-Kaye, president of NYPIRG and a junior majoring in biology, neighborhoods were chosen based on their socioeconomic status.
“We want to bring attention to the fact that so many single-mother families are disproportionately affected by food insecurity and issues that come with poverty and we want to provide that extra support,” Plotkin-Kaye said. “We go on Google Maps and look at the 3D version to make sure it’s somewhat wealthy, basically trying to make sure we’re not requesting donations from the communities we’re trying to serve, [and] make sure that they look like they can provide.”
The donations will be given to the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW), the Binghamton YWCA and Bear Necessities Food Pantry, a campus resource that assists food-insecure students. Last year, student groups collected 2,600 pounds of food, professional clothing and personal care products through the drive.
Celine Munroe, a NYPIRG project leader and a junior majoring in philosophy, politics and law, said she hopes the event shows people how to get involved in the community and the importance of local efforts.
“It’s Black History Month and [Women’s History Month], and people don’t know that there are things they can do to reach out to these groups,” Munroe said. “There’s stuff you can do other than just tweeting about it.”
The event, which has been running for several years, always draws returning volunteers, such as Esther Kang, a junior majoring in biology, who said she participated in the food drive last year. But over the weekend, newcomers joined the effort, with more than 60 people volunteering at the event, approximately double the number of volunteers from last semester, according to Munroe. She said the higher turnout came after organizers reached out to several Greek life organizations and increased their advertising efforts on social media.
Daphnie Sainvilus, a sophomore majoring in environmental studies, was one of the new faces at the drive on Saturday. She said she heard about the event through the Poverty Awareness Coalition.
“[I wanted] to get involved and help people who don’t have enough food,” Sainvilus said. “I haven’t volunteered much and I love helping people.”
Munroe said the increased involvement made her hopeful that the food drive would continue to grow.
“I hope that we’re inspiring more Binghamton students to want to be a part of the food drive, just because we got so many people this time, and next semester and the semester after that we just keeping increasing the number of volunteers that we have,” Munroe said. “Hopefully this is inspiring students to join organizations doing stuff like this.”