Engineering students pave the way to new virtual food drive

Tehya Rassman

The UT Student Engineering Council and the Central Texas Food Bank teamed up this October for an annual Halloween food drive. This year, they went digital. 

Traditionally, the food bank and council collect nonperishable canned food donations. This year the council transitioned to collecting money to support the food bank.

“Students are leading the way in the new, modern, virtual food drive,” said Kimina Jamison, Central Texas Food Bank community engagement coordinator. “We’ll keep using the Student Engineering Council as an example of how students have really mobilized.”

Jamison said every dollar donated online can provide four meals. The food bank receives a discount from the government to purchase food for those in need.

“Given that we are in Austin and there are many students here, it’s perfect that the Student Engineering Council decided to do a virtual food drive,” Jamison said. “You all have such a large impact in the community, and you have so many resources.”

The food drive started at the beginning of the month and ended Wednesday at midnight. By Wednesday evening, the council raised $7,062.33, surpassing their original goal of $3,000. In total, they raised enough money for about 28,249 meals.

“They’ve raised past what we had expected,” Jamison said. “With what they’ve raised so far, we’ll be able to provide (more than) 13,717 meals.”

Out of the 33 teams that signed up, the Undergraduate Business Council raised the most money, $409.20, and will receive a trophy. Teams from the Engineering Council, other college councils and engineering student organizations also participated.

Last year, the food bank distributed approximately 46 million pounds of food.

Chemical engineering senior Jeffrey Ha, one of the four event organizers, said he joined to get event planning experience but got more than he expected.

“I couldn’t have imagined it was going to be this rewarding,” Ha said. “Seeing all of these kids from not only engineering, but across UT, donate and give to this cause — it’s been really rewarding.”

Chemical engineering sophomore Michael Nie, another event organizer, said he counted cans for last year’s food drive and was inspired to do more by leading the food drive this year.

“We had the back corner of (a large room) just totally full of cans,” Nie said. “It was really awesome to see how the community came together and tried to make such a big impact on people they don’t necessarily know.”

Editor's Note: This story has been corrected to note Michael Nie is a chemical engineering major. A previous version of the story said Nie was a mechanical engineering major. The Texan regrets this error.