Four students undertook a project designed to benefit local underprivileged citizens on Wednesday, purchasing food from the Corner Store and encouraging students to donate both food and declining dollars to the cause.
“It’s a shame,” group member and senior Scott Lakso said. “Meal plans force people on campus to have too much money for food but there are people less than two miles away that don’t have enough.”
The group initially spent over $430 to purchase as much non-perishable food as possible from the Corner Store. After this, they set up a table on Library Road to distribute it.
The four members of the group were all students in the Art and Art History Department’s Living Sculpture/Performance Art course. “We had to do a project contrasting the absurd and the meaningful,” group member and sophomore Cate Mattson said.
After setting up the table on Library Road with all of their purchased food, the students encouraged passersby to either donate food or declining dollars. Students could also take food for free.
“Anyone can take food, but we’re hoping to end the day with a positive net gain,” Lakso said.
Although the students’ main goal was to promote donations to charity, they see a protest against the school’s meal plan system as integral to their concept.
“Every plan available leaves extra money at the end,” Mattson said. “This way, we can take the extra and do some good with it.”
The group saw success in their plan throughout the day, with many students stopping to donate declining dollars and food. Students stood by the table and encouraged others to go to the Corner Store to add to the effort.
“We only started with 430 of our own dollars, but we’ve had people adding all day,” Lakso said. “We have a lot more than what we started with.”
Students around campus appreciated the effort to distribute extra food to those in need.
“It’s really a great idea,” freshman Lauren Foster said. “Everyone has extra money left on their meal plan at the end of the year, and it goes to waste. This way, everyone can still get their food but there is less money going to waste.”
During the day, students were encouraged to take food in addition to giving, especially if they would trade some of their food for other food that they wanted more.
Originally, the idea for the project did not include charitable donations.
“We came up with the idea to buy out the Corner Store,” Lakso said. “It evolved to include donating all that we could.”
Turnout was greater than had been anticipated, leading to success for the project. “We thought we’d have problems raising food and money,” Lakso said. “We didn’t.”
In all, the organizers were pleased with the event and impressed with the donations given by UR students to their cause.
“People here are really philanthropists at heart,” Lakso said.Majarian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.