chemeketa students

Chemeketa students trick-or-treat for food pantry

By Chemeketa Public Affairs

Students went trick or treating for canned goods on Halloween.As children were trick or treating on Halloween throughout Salem and Keizer, 60 students from three Chemeketa Community College clubs were out in costume knocking on some of the same doors.

But these students had different treats on their minds. Rather than collecting chocolate sitting out in candy bowls, they had their sights set on the cans of green beans and instant noodle packages in pantries.

Students from Chemeketa’s Phi Theta Kappa honor society and One Body and Juntos clubs went trick-or-treating for non-perishable food items to fill a food pantry available in Chemeketa’s Student Life office for students in need.

PTK and One Body President Matt Rauch said results were beyond expectations, leaving the pantry better stocked than it has ever been before.

“It was fun, simple and effective,” Rauch said of the drive.

Skye Hibbard-Swanson, the college’s AmeriCorps VISTA food relief & service learning coordinator, was blown away by the community response as well.

“That food is directly going to turn around the next day and go out to students … It was just really heartening to see the community respond and meet the need,” she said.

The pantry, located in the Student Life office, is available to those with Chemeketa ID cards to discretely access basic food and toiletry items. So far, according to data Hibbard-Swanson has compiled, 50 people have used the pantry in the fall term as of Nov. 7, an average of 1.56 per day. Responses to confidential surveys by those using the pantry give a number of reasons for using it, with the most common responses being on low or fixed income or having become unemployed. Other reasons include students being homeless, having additional family members move in, or not having food stamps.

“There’s been time I’ve used it, my best friends have used it…We’re students, financially it’s hard to be students right now,” Rauch said.

For the Halloween food drive, students made sure the neighborhoods in Salem and Keizer knew they were coming in advance with door-to-door fliers.

“I think the way they did it was really smart where they distributed the fliers a week ahead of time,” Hibbard-Swanson said.

Then on Halloween students went out in costume to get the goods – in costume.

“Some of the students have kids, and they got to go out and trick-or-treat for candy as well,” said Rauch, who dressed as Jack Sparrow from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films.

Beyond major drives such as on Halloween, donations to the pantry are accepted during hours the Student Life office is open. Those wishing to donate items anonymously can do so by placing items in the marked bin near the office. A similar pantry has also started at Chemeketa’s Yamhill Valley campus.

Rauch expects the Halloween food drive to become a regular event.

“Every time I walk in (the pantry), it puts a smile on my face to know that all these students got together to help fellow students in need,” he said.

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