Cayley Rydzinski, Staff Writer

 

On Saturday, Nov. 7, Illinois Wesleyan University’s Interfaith group held its biggest service event of the year, Harvesting Help.

With the holiday season closing in, our minds turn toward the less fortunate. Harvesting Help was created last year by the Multifaith Ambassadors to give students the opportunity to both volunteer and learn how to help with food justice in the community.

The event began early in the morning where students worked with Illini Fighting Hunger to package rice casseroles.

Elyse Nelson-Winger, IWU’s chaplain explained that working with Illini Fighting Hunger allows volunteers to “take bulk foods like rice and other casserole and protein items and repackage them for individual families and food banks which is a great financial saving and a demonstrated need in the Champagne community.”

Each package produces enough food for six meals. When the volunteers were done, they had packaged over 3,000 meals.

Currently, Bloomington-Normal does not have a similar group to Illini Fighting Hunger, but as Nelson-Winger further explained, IWU Interfaith is “thinking about the possibility of having our own fighting hunger project here in Bloomington Normal” and that “this year’s Harvesting Help is service and strategy.”

Later, half of the volunteers left for the IWU Peace Garden. At the Peace Garden, students worked with James Simeone, IWU political science professor, to prepare the garden for winter. Students learned about the Peace Garden’s goal of sustainability and how the Garden fits into the Bloomington community.

After about three hours of work, all of the volunteers sat down for lunch with Tina Sipula, the founder of Clare House.

Clare House, which will soon be closing its doors with Sipula’s retirement, was one of the community’s most successful food pantries.

Each year during the holiday season, they were able to raise nine semi-trucks worth of food. Sipula said that her method for helping the hungry has been to “feed people without question” and that “no one has ever had to prove their need at Clare House or at our soup kitchen.”

Even though Harvesting Help is over, you can still help the hungry in the Bloomington Normal community by donating non-perishable items to the blue Promise Packs bins in the Memorial Center and CLA.

These items will go to children at Cedar Ridge Elementary School, where their backpacks will be filled with food that they can take home.