In its fight against hunger, the AmeriCorps VISTA program at Delta State University’s Center for Community and Economic Development is hosting a friendly donation competition known as "Stuff A Bus."
The Stuff A Bus program is just like it sounds — people will donate generously to fill a full size school bus with non-perishable foods to be distributed to shelters and disadvantaged households in Bolivar County.
On Tuesday, the bus will be parked on the quad at DSU, where all donations will be counted and then loaded onto the bus.
Local citizens are encouraged to participate and donations from the community may be dropped off at the quad on Tuesday between 9:30–10:30 a.m.
The community service project is a collaboration between VISTA, DSU’s Administrative Staff Council and the DSU Year of Service Team, with the goal of implementing meaningful solutions to eliminate hunger in the Delta.
The Bolivar County Community Action Agency will provide the bus.
“The anti-hunger initiative is an extension of Project WHOLE, VISTA’s current community health outreach component designed to educate low-income community members about developing and maintaining a quality and healthy lifestyle,” said Linda Stringfellow, director of the VISTA program.
“Projects like Stuff A Bus are held across the United States, and it's a unique way for schools, businesses and individuals to donate,” added Stringfellow. "This will be the first time this type of food security project will be held in Bolivar County and we are hosting it during the most appropriate holiday — Thanksgiving.”
Trophies will be awarded to the department and student organization that collectively donates the most food.
“Our goal is not only to 'stuff the bus' but to also 'feed a need' in Delta communities," said Stringfellow. "We're expecting great success and it should be a lot of fun."
While the campaign has a fun twist, Stringfellow said hunger in the Delta is a serious issue.
"A large portion of Delta households are at risk for food insecurity due to several socioeconomic factors, including households with incomes below the poverty level," she said. "Many families have reduced access to food and decreased availability of a variety of foods.”
To ensure all donations from the project will be utilized, partnerships have been established with federal and state assistance program administrators, local farmers, food banks and community garden growers.
“The AmeriCorps VISTA program is excited about Stuff A Bus and we have several other projects that will be implemented in Delta communities in support of DSU’s Year of Service,” added Stringfellow. “I can’t tell too much without spoiling a couple of surprises, however each of the initiatives will be another step forward in illustrating the direct connection between education and socioeconomic transformation across the Mississippi Delta.”
For more information on making donations, contact Stringfellow at 662-846-4358.