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ECSU campaign collects 11,000 pounds of food

By Peter Williams

The Daily Advance

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The region’s hungry will receive about 9,000 extra meals this year thanks to a recently completed food drive at Elizabeth City State University.

A campuswide food drive held in conjunction with this year’s homecoming celebration succeeded in collecting donations and cash for Food Bank of the Albemarle equaling nearly 11,000 pounds of food.

Chancellor Willie Gilchrist, who announced the drive in early September, came through on his pledge to raise the most in donations and collect the most food during the month-long effort. The chancellor’s office collected what amounts to 2,786 pounds of food.

The Helen Marshall Caldwell School of Education and Psychology collected the most food and raised the most in donations of any academic school or department, bringing in 1,985 pounds of food.

WRVS, the campus radio station, collected the third-largest amount of donations, with 766 pounds of food.

About half of the 10,810 pounds of food collected came by way of cash donations, said Steve Murray, resource development director for Food Bank of the Albemarle. The food bank can use a single dollar to buy about five pounds of food.

“Cash contributions give us the ability to address the needs at the moment and we’ve got a lot more purchasing power,” Murray said. “When we buy food, we buy it by the pallet load, not a bag at a time at the grocery store.”

Gilchrist had hoped the ECSU drive would be the largest ever for the local food bank. It fell short of the 18,000 pounds collected last year by U.S. Postal Service workers, but it was very impressive for a first time effort, Murray said.

“We consider this as one of our largest drives and it’s impressive that it’s just the first year and they only had about a month to do it,” he said. “When they announced it, we didn’t know where (the drive) was going to go, but I think you can consider it a great success.”

In fiscal year 2011-12, the food bank provided 4.7 million pounds of food to the hungry in a 15-county region.

A lot of that food went to the unemployed. Currently, the jobless rate tops 10 percent in nine of the 15 counties served by the food bank.