Kent State College of Public Health Graduate Students Engage in Community Food Drive
Graduate students in Kent State University’s College of Public Health are engaging in a food drive that benefits Kent Social Services’ food pantry – The Lord’s Pantry. The food drive project is a requirement of a master’s-level course, Public Health Programs: Planning, Implementation and Evaluation (HPM 53007), taught by College of Public Health Assistant Professor Deric Kenne, Ph.D.
Students who take the course are required to plan, implement and evaluate a public health program. In this case, the public health program that the students are involved with is one to combat food insecurity in Kent. In order to pass the course, the students have had to plan a food drive program that would yield enough donations to fill a small U-Haul truck with 400-cubic feet of space by the end of the spring semester.
“The primary goal of this project is to provide the students a hands-on experience in planning, implementing and evaluating a public health program,” says Kenne. “Specifically, students will learn more about food insecurity and issues related to the problem, as well as its impact on communities and individuals. Secondarily, but perhaps more importantly, the efforts of the students will result in what we hope is a substantial donation to the food pantry.”
Kenne says that the College of Public Health is focused on providing students with educational experiences and skills necessary to succeed after graduating.
“I feel strongly that while textbooks contain important information, applying that information to the real world is often difficult to do — perhaps even an unrealistic expectation,” Kenne says. “In requiring that my students take the lead in planning from scratch, implementing and evaluating this food drive, they will learn and experience first-hand, not only the successes, but also the hurdles we often face in the real world when planning and implementing public health programs.”
Kent State College of Public Health graduate student Anupinder Kaur says that the project, besides being a big part of her grade for the class, is helping her gain practical experience.
“Now I know what it takes to plan and implement a project, and by the end of the semester I will learn the evaluation aspect as well,” Kaur says. “It also feels good deep inside to be doing something of worth that’s going to be helping many people who are in need.”
Kaur encourages members of the Kent State community and the city of Kent to get involved with the project by donating nonperishable food items and new personal care items at Lowry Hall on the Kent Campus or by volunteering their time. The pantry’s most needed items are peanut butter, tuna, boxed macaroni and cheese, canned soups, pasta and cereal.
A community bag drop is planned as part of the project. Kent residents will receive grocery bags donated by Acme Fresh Market in Kent on March 29, and the class will return two days later on March 31 to pick up the bags of donated items.
“We are thrilled that the Public Health graduate students are sponsoring a food drive for the pantry at Kent Social Services,” says Christie Anderson, program manager, Kent Social Services. “We currently distribute about 720 bags of groceries to low-income households in Kent every month.”
Anderson says that her organization is faced with increasing costs of purchasing food as a result of the rising cost of fuel.
“These are challenging times,” Anderson says. “The rising fuel costs also impacts low-income families that struggle to make ends meet and sometimes have to sacrifice food for the sake of paying rent and maintaining their car. The effort of the Kent State students is greatly appreciated and will enhance the lives of many vulnerable people in the Kent community.”
For more information about Kent State’s College of Public Health, visit www.kent.edu/publichealth. For more information about the food drive initiative or to find out how you can help, contact Kenne at dkenne [at] kent.edu or 330-672-7105.