Fighting Irish Fighting Hunger mobilizes throughout Hunger Action Month
Natalie Weber | Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Approximately one in four children in Northern Indiana doesn’t have enough food to eat, according to the Food Bank of Northern Indiana.
Fighting Irish Fighting Hunger (FIFH) hopes to help address this problem through its annual September food drive. Since its founding in 2010, the group has raised over 14,000 pounds of food, 2018 FIFH chairperson Anne Kolaczyk said.
“We’ve tried different times of year to have it and we’ve kind of settled on September because it seems to be a good month where people are looking for something to support,” she said.
FIFH originally arose out of an HR class for managers, Kolaczyk said. As part of a class project, a group of participants started FIFH to consolidate numerous food drives across campus. Since its founding, the efforts have been entirely volunteer-based.
“It is something that is run on a department by department basis,” Kolaczyk said. “We try to collect money because the food banks and the food pantries who get the money we collect can buy a whole lot more with that money than we could if we went to the store and used that same amount of money to buy items to donate.”
According to its website, in 2017, the organization raised $24,000 and collected 300 pounds of food, thanks to competitions and bake sales throughout the month. Donations benefit People Gotta Eat — a United Way coalition of food pantries — and the Food Bank of Northern Indiana.
Though FIFH collects both funds and food items, it has mainly focused on raising money for the organizations, Kolaczyk said.
“When we collect food, everybody gets tomato soup and chicken noodle soup, and the pantries often have a lot of certain items and giving them money means they can buy produce or dairy products, or they can buy things that their clients need that they’re not getting in food items,” she said. “So it gives them a lot more flexibility.”
Because the event is based on volunteer efforts across departments, one of the biggest logistical challenges of the drive is simply making sure people are aware it’s happening, Kolaczyk said.
“Our time is limited and [our] ability just to get the word out [is limited],” she said. “We can get it out within our departments okay. I’m in OIT so I can send an email out to OIT and say ‘Hey, we’re doing this’ and ask for donations, but there are departments across campus where we don’t have volunteers.”
While the main FIFH food drive takes place in September, various Notre Dame organizations have organized charity events under the FIFH’s auspices. Last year, the Student Union Board organized an early Turkey Trot race to raise funds for FIFH. In conjunction with the Notre Dame-Syracuse football game, a group of alumni are also initiating a service event to donate food for Thanksgiving meals, Kolaczyk said.
“[We] still have a bunch of food drives on campus,” she said. “Many are under the name of FIFH, which is great. I encourage that [because] not everybody knows about that and I just like everybody using the same name because it gives us much more exposure.”
Ultimately, Kolaczyk said, the most rewarding part of participating in FIFH is helping address hunger issues in the community.
“It is just so moving to see the gratitude from these people who are trying so hard to help people in need,” she said. “And sometimes the checks — they’re never as much as I would love to give, but [the organizations] are so grateful for any help they get and it really brings back how we are a community. When there’s parts of our community that are suffering, we all suffer in a way.”
Donations can be made by visiting one of the donation boxes listed on FIFH’s website. Monetary donations can also be made through the organization’s website.