By Serin Sarsour
Brooklyn College’s annual food drive, “Trick or Eat,” organized by the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), gave BC students the opportunity to volunteer and go door-to-door to collect non-perishable foods and clothing donations. The food drive volunteers dropped bags off at people’s homes on Nov. 4, picking them up four days later filled with donated goods.
NYPIRG is New York’s largest non-profit organization led by students who aim to help and contribute to the well-being of their communities. Students across New York can work with NYPIRG to make higher education and public transportation more accessible and affordable, encourage locals to vote, and much more. Through their food drive, NYPIRG and BC students hope to reduce food insecurity and combat poverty in Brooklyn communities.
“I was interested [in working with NYPIRG] because I kind of have firsthand experience of dealing with those food insecurities, like in my past,” NYPIRG intern and BC sophomore Sahar Husain told The Vanguard.
The collected food items will be split between BC’s food pantry and the First Presbyterian Church, while the donated clothing will go to the New York City Department of Homeless Services.
“Recruitment was difficult because a lot of students are remote,” said Shelli Cohen, a NYPIRG Project Coordinator at Brooklyn College. “I think we turned that challenge into, you know, something that motivated students to get out there. It’s like, ‘Okay, you can meet people and interact with your classmates and basically have human interaction,’ which I think pulled a bunch of students out to campus.”
Approximately 200 food items and 160 articles of clothing were donated this year after many BC students and NYPIRG staff went door-to-door near campus to Avenue J between Bedford and East 22 Street.
NYPIRG is also working on circulating a petition within their higher education campaign, calling for funding to campus food pantries. “It is now mandated on public universities in New York State to have campus food pantries. But there was no funding that was allocated to those food pantries, so we are asking Governor Hochul to include the Hunger-Free Campus Act in her executive budget,” explained Cohen.
The Hunger-Free Campus Act, sponsored by NY Senator Anna M. Kaplan, focuses on food insecurity that students who attend public and private higher education institutions face.
“It would allocate funding to these campus food pantries and kind of be like a grant process and people could request money basically to fund the food pantries,” Cohen continued.
By next year’s food drive, NYPIRG may expand what neighborhoods or locations they reach out to for donations.