Donations to stack up for Charit-a-Bull food drive

The Feed-a-Bull food pantry, which serves students on campus, will receive a majority of the cans collected during this month’s Charit-a-Bull food drive. ORACLE FILE PHOTO/RUSSELL NAY

While many universities have food drives, few stack donated items in creative structures before distribution.

USF is currently hosting its annual canned food drive “Charit-a-Bull” with donations going to the new on-campus student food pantry, Feed-a-Bull, and Metropolitan Ministries, a Tampa Bay human services charity. USF students and community members can drop off non-perishable canned goods at any one of the 20 drop-off boxes across campus through Oct. 1.

Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement (CLCE) Assistant Director Justin Fitzgerald said it’s important for the university to host an annual food drive to raise awareness of and assist the many USF students and nearby Tampa residents who face food insecurity. 

Fitzgerald said a food drive also gives students the opportunity to give back to USF and the Tampa community.

“I think a lot of our students on campus don’t … realize there are students going hungry and struggling to afford food,” he said. “This event allows (students to) materially give back by donating cans, but it also allows for some volunteer opportunities.”

During last year’s food drive, USF was able to collect an estimated 3,000 pounds of canned goods, and Fitzgerald said the university hopes to collect 5,000 pounds this year.

Once the donations are collected from around campus and at CLCE, Fitzgerald said the Feed-a-Bull pantry will have priority in selecting the food it needs most to fill its on-campus pantry to capacity before the remaining the food is sent to Metropolitan Ministries.

Before the food is packed away, however, Fitzgerald said student members from the American Society of Civil Engineers will use the cans to create a large structure in the Marshall Student Center (MSC) Atrium.

Called “Canstruction,” Fitzgerald said the idea comes from the national charity of the same name that creates giant structures from canned goods before donating them to local hunger relief organizations. 

Fitzgerald said this is not an uncommon practice among universities, and George Mason University used “Canstruction” to kick off its own homecoming week in February.

He said students can stop by to watch the “Canstruction” on Oct. 4 and 5, and the structure will be based on this year’s Homecoming theme “Bulls Unite.” It will be present in the MSC by the USF seal for the rest of Homecoming Week.

“There will be two tables (next to the structure) — one for Feed-a-Bull to promote what it’s doing on campus and one for Metropolitan Ministries to promote what it does in the community,” Fitzgerald said. 

Other than volunteering Oct. 2 to help collect cans from around campus, Fitzgerald said students can also get involved by volunteering Oct. 12 when help will be needed to take down the structure.

“We need a lot of help putting all of those cans from the structure in the atrium into crates because … Tuesday morning after Homecoming, Metropolitan Ministries will come with their trucks and take it … right to their kitchens,” Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald said students wanting to volunteer for the “De‘can’struction” event Oct. 12 can send him an email at Donation drop box locations are spread around campus, including in Student Health Services and the Zimmerman School of Advertising and Mass Communications.