Student athletes help to combat Bay Area hunger

SF State’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee is hosting its seventh annual food drive this week, Feb. 19 through Feb. 25, where proceeds go to the SF-Marin Food Bank.

The food drive, started in 2011, asks that all 13 schools in the California Collegiate Athletic Association gather donations that are then given to a local food bank or on-campus pantry.

“We are always happy to be raising cans/food for those less fortunate than us and we are always striving to raise more each year,” Alexis Konstantino said. Konstantino is the SAAC social media representative as well as a member of the softball team and SAAC executive board.

The program was designed to “raise awareness to the prevalence of hunger in communities surrounding the Conference’s member institutions,” according to a press release by the SF State athletic department.

The SF-Marin Food Bank serves approximately 225,000 people per year, according to its website.

“The problem doesn’t go away unfortunately,” said Mark Seelig, a member of the food bank. “We distribute upwards of 49 million pounds of food a year.”

The Food Bank runs several programs to combat hunger issues in the Bay Area. They provide snacks to students at several high-need public schools, facilitate a grocery delivery system Seelig lauds as “wildly successful” and a organizes a network of 253 weekly pantries that offer fresh fruits, vegetables and other healthy food items.

The Food Bank, celebrating its 30th anniversary, is “bursting at the seams” according to Seelig with how much food they distribute.

“We’re trying to just roll out as many programs (and) try to do as much outreach as possible,” Seelig said.

The 2016 CCAA food drive program collected 15,157 donations, an all-time high and roughly 5,000 more than the total collected in 2015. Konstantino said the SAAC board collected a record 488 cans last year.

“We are hoping that our numbers increase this year and for years on,” Konstantino said. “This is a great way for our student athletes to give back to our community and we are happy to donate anything we can.”

Those interested in donating can bring nonperishable food items to the bins in the lobby of the gym at Don Nasser Family Plaza or can donate on the website until Feb. 25.

“These food drives are just gigantic,” Seelig said. “We really do appreciate it — any little bit counts.”

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Student athletes help to combat Bay Area hunger