UVU and BYU students unite to help feed Utah Valley’s hungry families

uvu and byu
Students from both Utah Valley University and Brigham Young University joined their school mascots, Willy and Cosmo, at Provo's Community Action Services and Food Bank to officially kick off their annual Valley United food drive on Friday, Oct. 26. Valley United runs Nov. 5-30.

By Amie Rose
Last year Utah Valley residents came together to raise more than $40,000 for hungry families and donated 266,292 pounds of food. So how much will they raise this year?

Since 2012, students from Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University have joined together to raise money and food for hungry families. On Friday, Oct. 26, Cosmo the Cougar, Willy the Wolverine and students from both schools got together to kick off the 2018 Valley United Food Drive — the largest of its kind in Utah County. The two schools compete to raise money and food donations for the drive, which benefits Community Action Services and Food Bank. That means all the food donated and money raised helps people who live in the community.

“Though we always need donations — food as well as money — the Valley United drive comes at a vital time in the year,” said Dave Smith, food bank manager for Community Action Services and Food Bank. “We appreciate the efforts of BYU, UVU and everyone in the community to help our neighbors in need.”

At the kick-off event, Cosmo and Willy each met with families who use the food pantry at Community Action Services in Provo. They then walked through the pantry with the families as they selected their food for the week.

During the food drive, which runs Nov. 5-30, people can donate online through a secure website. At UVU, they also can deposit non-perishable food in barrels located around campus. At BYU, people also can give money at the Cougareat, BYU bookstore, and the Creameries. Bins for non-perishable food donations will be all around campus at BYU, too. Both schools also plan to hold events during the food drive to raise money.

“We’re excited to see the generosity of students and the community this year,” Smith said.

For every dollar raised, Community Action Services can buy three meals or 15 pounds of food for people in need. It will use the donated food to stock its pantry, which helps people in Utah County, where 13.3 percent of residents don’t know where they’ll get their next meal. In 2017, Community Action Services’s food pantry in Provo helped 900 families every month.

Community Action Services and Food Bank has been helping solve poverty in Utah County since 1967. It provides more than a food bank, though. Its services stabilize people living in poverty, teach them self-sufficiency skills, and help them overcome poverty. For a list of needed non-perishable items or for more information about Community Action Services and Food Bank, go to communityactionuc.org.