Food Drive Preview: The Moving Pieces of Jesuit’s Favorite Tradition


Mr. Falkner

Santa Clarke is crucial in spreading Food Drive cheer.

Windchill is in the Portland air, peppermint mochas are back at Starbucks, Christmas songs are on the radio and, you guessed it, it’s food drive season!

The 54th annual food drive officially kicks off on Thursday, December 1, but preparations for organizing Jesuit’s largest student-body event began in October.

Communication with LifeWorks Northwest, the organization that provides Jesuit with the information of families who 1st period classes sponsor with food and gifts, is one of the first steps Andrea Casey and Emily Schmidt, Director and Associate Director of the Arrupe Center for Justice, take in the fall. Additionally, they began planning details alongside other Food Drive partners, including St. Vincent DePaul, St. Cecilia City Church, and local elementary schools in the Beaverton School District.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that Casey describes the Food Drive as a series of “moving pieces.”

“Many hands make light work,” Casey said. “If we can share all the tasks that need to get done, and provide lots of opportunities for people to contribute, then that’s what makes the food drive all the more joyful.”

One of the main ways that Casey and Schmidt provide opportunities for people to contribute is through student committees.

Advertising, Special Events, Perishables, Distribution, and T-Shirts are the 5 committees run by Student Government students. Sophomores, juniors, and seniors are invited to join these students to engage in behind the scenes work for food drive coordination starting at kickoff.

“We really want people to get involved, and we want to provide leadership roles for students,” Schmidt said. “We want them to feel agency and ownership over this process.”

This year marks a record student interest for helping out on the committees.

“We had a really good turnout this year— over 100 students showed up to our student sign-up meeting,” Casey said. “That’s when things for the food drive really start moving.”

Juniors Lucy Maddocks and Livvy Reger are this year’s co-chairs for the Perishables and Special Events committees, respectively. 

“We run committee meetings, set up the emails to coordinate all the students in our group, and plan the actual events,” Reger said.

The Special Events committee is responsible for organizing festive traditions that contribute to food drive donations such as Sader Lights and CANdy Cane lunch sales, which are set to occur from December 5 through December 12 this year. 

Reger spoke on why she believes this is a crucial component to the food drive process.

“Planning events for student government is probably my favorite part about my involvement in the class,” Reger said. “I wanted to use my experience there to help enhance the food drive events we all love so much this year.”

As a co-chair for the Perishables committee, Maddocks helps lead partnerships with Portland area grocers. 

“I’ve been learning a lot about how perishable food is a really important part of the food drive,” Maddocks said. “I’m working with large grocers to get food donations or discounts on the perishable food that is given to the families we serve.”

Collaboration between the Arrupe Center for Justice, outside partners, and student organizations ultimately prepare students for experiencing and understanding the greater need for the food drive.

“I hope that students’ awareness of food insecurity is raised, and that there’s also some raised awareness about needs in unexpected places, including the needs of people right here in our neighborhood,” Casey said.

“I hope that students make personal connections,” Schmidt said. “Maybe they delivered and greeted a family at their door, or went to Target and personally selected a gift for a five-year-old girl. I hope they develop a sense of ‘Oh, this a person that I am serving and now have a connection to.’”

Whether you’re leading a committee or experiencing the food drive for the first time, it’s certain you’ll feel the distinctively food drive spirit of giving back to the community alongside your peers— with Christmas tunes playing in the background on distribution day, of course.

“It’s all about modeling the spirit of recognizing there are so many ways to give, and it’s not just about giving money or food,” Casey said. “There are many ways you can give to the food drive, including your time, energy, and positive attitude.”