In the fall of 2011, the sport and exercise science department and Exercise Science Club were charged with developing healthy recipes using ingredients traditionally found in the food banks and pantries within Gannon’s Erie-Gannon Alliances to Improve Neighborhood Sustainability (Erie-GAINS) outreach area.
Through this experience, an identified lack of two common food products became apparent. “After the students and I visited two food banks we noticed that they were not distributing any pasta or rice,” said assistant professor Suzanne Kitts Ph.D., ATC. “It was explained to us that pasta and rice is not always available to distribute which was shocking to us. Those items are staples in so many households, so we decided to help.” Kitts, along with former Exercise Science Club president Brianna Anderson, took action.
Calling the program the Pound for Pound Challenge, Kitts and Anderson challenged students and faculty in Gannon University’s Morosky College of Health Professions and Sciences to give back, and give they did. December 11 marked the conclusion of the third annual collection of non-perishable goods, mainly rice and pasta. The following day, a 949-pound donation was made to the Second Harvest Food Bank; that total easily surpassed the 763 lbs collected in 2012.
The sport and exercise science department collected 350 lbs of rice and pasta, followed by the Villa Maria School of Nursing (237 lbs.) and the mathematics department (204 lbs.). While the spirit of competition between departments continues to drive donations higher, it is the spirit of giving that motivates the participating programs. Said Kitts, “It’s about giving back to the community that surrounds Gannon University.”
Erie-GAINS is a long-term, mutually beneficial community initiative designed to expand the University’s efforts to support the common good of the neighborhood surrounding the University’s urban campus.