Feast for free or on a budget

Published by Robin Bailey on

Local agencies are beginning efforts to provide seasonal resources to those in need as the nights grow long, temperatures drop, leaves crisp to brilliant vermillion and the holidays approach. At the front of these efforts at UCC are the free Thanksgiving meal basket centerpieces of the ASUCC Leadership Team’s holiday event plans.

“This can be a time of stress for many students who are struggling to make ends meet,” wrote Marjan Coester, the student engagement director, in an announcement email on Nov. 2.

ASUCC had the idea to ease student struggles with an open invitation to apply for Thanksgiving meal baskets.

The sign details the foodstuffs needed for the Thanksgiving Basket Food Drive.
Photo provided by ASUCC

Any fall term UCC student living in Douglas County can apply to receive one. However, Coester warns, ASUCC is only able to give out around 75 baskets.

Donations to meal baskets are currently sourced through food drive events that ASUCC has been hosting at Sherm’s Thunderbird Market. At the drives, ASUCC provides a table and list of items customers can buy to then donate to include in the baskets. Some of the listed foodstuffs are chicken broth, stuffing mix, jello, potatoes, frozen pies, all kinds of seasonal canned goods and butter. This setup also included a jar to collect monetary donations.

The next food drive will occur Nov. 19 in order to successfully meet their goal of providing 75 baskets. This will be ASUCC’s second time hosting a food drive for the baskets; the last was on Oct. 29 — and ASUCC reported an exciting turnout. Donations from the drive filled up at least three or four vehicles.

For a few days, the collected donations could be seen crowding the back tables of the Student Center Lounge: a sea of brown bags, all filled near their tops. ASUCC members were pleasantly surprised (and almost unprepared) for the amount of frozen foods given so far at the drive; Vice President of Student Services Jim Pittman helped ASUCC out with sourcing a freezer to keep them in.

The table full of donations for the Thanksgiving Basket Food Drive.
Photo provided by ASUCC

ASUCC President Larisa Czernowski says, “Turkeys and cider are our least donated item due to cost, but I think we’ve received around five turkeys so far.” She adds that monetary donations, either by cash or check, are also welcome. “Any member of ASUCC can take those donations: Marjan, Nakaela, me — all of us.” 

Pittman hopes for more hands to help volunteer at the upcoming food drive. “We’re trying to get more students involved,” he says. Students interested in helping out or donating at the next drive are encouraged to attend and may arrive or depart at any time during the event. It will take place on Nov. 20, starting around 10 a.m. and last until 3 p.m.

Pittman has considered placing donation depository sites around campus. However, there are some associated difficulties; Pittman notes how donated food should be recent and decent: “Nobody wants 10 cans of lima beans.” 

Those wanting to receive meal baskets may apply online via the 2022 Thanksgiving Basket Application form before Nov. 17.

No basket? No problem

Students unable to receive Thanksgiving Baskets can still get free or reduced holiday meals at nearby locales. By going to Feeding America’s website and entering a local zip code, users will be directed to the website of Oregon Food Bank, located in Portland. From their site, nearer food banks can be accessed.

One of those food banks is the Roseburg Dream Center. Their website lists a Warming Center, which opens when temperatures are “30 deg and below or 32 with snow”; an Open Hands Food Ministry, open on Mondays and Wednesdays, 9:30 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.; and a clothing outreach called “In His Hands,” which they describe as “[s]et up like an upscale store.” Students at UCC may also take any clothing in any reasonable amount from the available supply in the back of the Student Center.

Another food bank is the Roseburg Friendly Kitchen. People in the Roseburg area can sign up for their Meals on Wheels service which “delivers hot, nutritious and delicious lunches Monday, Wednesday, and Friday between 10:00 a.m. and 12 p.m. to… individuals … 60 years of age or older, disabled, or recovering from an illness or injury making it challenging to buy groceries and prepare nutritious meals.” Other people located in Glide, Sutherlin, Myrtle Creek, Green, Canyonville, Glendale and Oakland may call 541-440-3677, the county hotline, to set up delivery.

Other useful websites, like the Homeless Shelters Directory, offer many other holiday season resources. The HSD links to free dental care clinics, food banks and treatment centers, among other available services.

Any additional questions concerning the Thanksgiving Meal Baskets may be directed to Marjan Coester by email or asked at the Information Desk in the LaVerne Murphy Student Center.

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