Staff Council to hold

A typical food can is six inches long. Do you know the distance from Forbes Avenue to the Cut in cans of soup?

Staff Council hopes to find out tomorrow as part of Cans Across the Cut, a new addition to organization?s annual sponsored food drive.

In an effort to garner more supplies for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank ? and to encourage greater student involvement ? Staff Council members are sponsoring this new program in partnership with their annual fall project. This Tuesday, students can gather to place cans in a line across the Cut, with the goal of making the chain reach from the Fence all the way to Forbes Avenue.
Now in its 12th year, the food drive has traditionally been directed toward faculty and staff only. Boxes, though, have been located in nearly every academic building on campus, making the program available for student donations as well. Now, Cans Across the Cut is directly targeting students.

Staff Council members and student volunteers will be at the Fence on Tuesday from 9 am to 6 pm collecting food and cash donations. For students who will not cross paths with the fundraising event on Tuesday, a collection bin is located directly outside Entropy, where students and staff can also purchase canned items for $1.

?We are hoping for a definite increase in collections,? Staff Council representative Jennifer Cox explained. ?As always, we want to beat last year?s totals. But this is also a way for kids to give back to the campus and the community.?

Though the drive, co-chaired by Staff Council committee members Gloria Dadowski and Carole Panno, highlights the collection of canned goods, cereal, and other non-perishable items, cash donations as well as personal care items and cleaning supplies are also welcomed by the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank (GPCFB). GPCFB?s website reports that the organization and its combined 350 member agencies serve 11 communities in southwestern Pennsylvania, in addition to ?120,000 unduplicated clients monthly.?

With the winter rapidly approaching, this is a critical time for the GPCFB ? not only because of an increased number of people to serve, but also because a large fraction of the Food Bank?s supply went to help Hurricane Katrina victims. The GPCFB?s website states, ?We need to replace items from our shelves that we will ship south to hurricane states. Just as important is this time of year when the Food Bank especially needs your help to get ready for the winter season. Between the rise in local poverty rates and the soaring price of fuel, it?s likely demand for our services will be up this winter.?

Because Cans Across the Cut is in its first year, the initial student response has not been as great as hoped for, though some students from the Mellon College of Science have taken an active interest in the project. Junior design major Rachel Stadelmeier said, ?I know that there is a food drive, but I don?t know anything about it other than they collect food. However, because many campus events are advertised on the Cut and tickets are sold there, I think this event could be a good idea.?

According to Staff Council?s website, ?In 11 years, the drive has collected over 46,000 pounds of non-perishables, plus more than $1500 in cash, checks, and Giant Eagle gift cards.? Even without considerable student donations in the past, last year?s drive gathered 4720 pounds of non-perishable items and total donations of $785. However, with the combination of added support and awareness from the student population, Staff Council hopes to greatly increase the previous drive?s totals.