AERO assists MCFD with food drive


Evelyn Zavala

The food drive donation box in the lobby of the Henderson Campus Center.

The Allegheny Emergency Response Organization has joined the Meadville Central Fire Department in collecting for their “Annual Food Drive.” All food items collected from Nov. 28 to Dec. 2 will be given to the Center for Family Services, Women’s Services, and the Jr. High Food Locker.
AERO President Dominic Urbani, ’23, explained that AERO’s involvement in the dood drive is due to board member Cameron Long, ’23, who volunteers with the MCFD.
“Our purpose is to encourage student involvement in local emergency responses, like fire and EMS responses,” Urbani said. “Our involvement also is to get our name out there and let the community of Meadville know that Allegheny students are here and that they are trying to help.”
The collection box was located in the lobby of the Henderson Campus Center on the first floor.
“If students are not able to donate, I think the best way to get involved would be to give the social media pages a like or share what they are doing,” Urbani said. “Student engagement will let the community know that we are here to help and that we are not separate from them.”
Associate Professor of Environmental Science and Sustainability Matthew Bethurem, who serves as AERO’s faculty adviser, said that food drives are also inherently sustainable.
“Food drives, outside of the more moral and ethical imperative to make sure people aren’t going hungry, are going to reduce food waste, and anytime we reduce food waste we are helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Bethurem said.
According to Bethurem, involvement in community-wide projects are important for fostering a perception that the college can be a resource for the Meadville community.
“I think it is important for the college to be involved in these sorts of projects and by doing so we are helping out and at the same time you’ve got a situation where relationships can be developed that can be re-utilized as community needs present themselves,” Bethurem said.
Although Fire Chief Patrick Wiley started the Annual Food Drive six years ago, the firefighters’ union — Local 515 of the International Association of Fire Fighters — has taken over the responsibility this year. While the event is under new leadership, its mission and structure remain the same.
Local 515 President Evan Kardosh shared that Wiley had started the drive when he noticed that many families did not have a lot of food.
“We have tried to keep growing it every year and trying to make sure we can get as many families and as many people food that they need, trying to distribute it evenly as much as we can throughout the Meadville and Crawford County area,” Kardosh said. “I think we have at least 13 different collection points around Meadville this year because a lot of different businesses had collection points and we are telling anyone that has donations that they can bring them to the fire station itself.”
According to Kardosh, the main reason for having the drive during the holiday season is that people tend to be in the giving spirit.
Kardosh recommends people donate food that is easy to make — macaroni and cheese, ramen noodles and other quick foods. He said people can use those types of foods to make full meals, as opposed to eating them as snacks. Kardosh also said that foods like pasta last a long time and people of all ages enjoy them.
“From what we have seen, it ends up being either a lot of high school kids where they are coming home and trying to make food or people who are involved in Women’s Services and Center for Family Services where maybe there is not a lot of stability,” Kardosh said. “There are some situations that can be going on at home where the last thing that they are thinking about is sitting down and worrying about making an hour-long meal.”
One of the benefits of having Allegheny students involved in the effort is that college students share a similar diet to high school students. Thus, the donations college students can be used by many of the people the food drive is trying to support.
“I do not know how Allegheny got involved but it has been huge for us since then,” Kardosh said. “I think it’s huge anytime you can take a basic need such as food and take away that worry and stress away from a family.”