SRU puts ‘IZE’ on food insecurity, March 22-28


two hands holding a piece of bread

Feb. 21, 2020

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. — The Student Nonprofit Alliance at Slippery Rock University will partner with Butler County Community College to host "IZE on Food Insecurity Week" March 22-28. The weeklong event includes a March 27 "Harvesting Ideas for Food Security'' mini-conference.

Through a Bridging Theory to Practice grant, the SNA, SRU, BC3, the Butler County commissioners and area businesses will join forces to help the community "realIZE the importance of addressing the issue of food security and food justice; empathIZE with those experiencing food insecurity; and mobilIZE to find a solution."

The Association of American Colleges and Universities, a national association focused on "improving undergraduate education and advancing liberal education," awarded the grant.

The week's focus was derived from the results of a 2019 Slippery Rock Student Government Association survey that showed approximately 30% of SRU's residential students suffer from food insecurity. By comparison, the national average for college students experiencing food insecurity at some point during their collegiate career is 50%.

"With the cost of higher education, there are competing realities for students, like deciding whether to pay for textbooks or food," said Alice Del Vecchio, assistant professor and chair of the Philanthropy, Nonprofit Leadership and Public Affairs Department. "Many students decide to forgo the food and that, to me, is criminal in this society; that people who are educating themselves in order to make a contribution to our society, are going hungry. It is unnecessary and there are things that we can do to fix it.

"The idea of IZE week is to not only look at college student hunger, but to look at food insecurity and food justice in different ways in order to bring a cross section of people together to raise wide-spread awareness. Together, we can change the current reality."

The week will feature daily activities beginning with a Canned Food Drive, March 23-26. Donations will benefit Bob's Market, SRU's student food pantry located at the Robert A. Macoskey Center, and the Feed My Sheep Food Cupboard in Slippery Rock. Donation boxes will be located in the lobby areas of Bailey Library, Smith Student Center, Boozel Dining Hall, and Rooms 200 and 205 inside Spotts World Culture Building.

The film, "A Place at The Table," will be shown at 6 p.m., March 23, in the SSC Theater. The film examines hunger in America with a focus on the plight of three individuals from different parts of the country, struggling to find adequate nutrition. A talk back will follow the screening.

Orange Ribbon Grocery Bingo is from 6-8 p.m., March 24, in the SSC Ballroom. Student attendees will have the opportunity to win bags full of groceries and toiletries. Various Butler County businesses and individuals donated the prizes.

Students and faculty are invited to attend a Food Security on College Campuses Panel Discussion, noon to 2 p.m., March 25, in the SSC Ballroom. SNA will present facts about hunger on college campuses, including SRU, and will invite students to share their experiences with the hopes of identifying actionable steps to address the issue.

The week will conclude with the "Harvesting Ideas for Food Security in Butler County" conference, beginning at 8 a.m., Butler Memorial Hospital, One Hospital Way, Butler, 16001. The conference invites students to present research posters and offer solutions on issues surrounding food insecurity and justice. Student participants are encouraged to collaborate with community members, private sector businesses, government agencies, and nonprofit and faith-based organizations in developing presentation topics. Topics can include: food waste and repurposing; hunger on college campuses; access and affordability; cross-sector collaboration; community nutrition and more.

Posters will be judged by the IZE Steering Committee, which includes representatives from SRU and BC3, with the top four places receiving a $500 scholarship courtesy of various area businesses.

Students from both SRU and BC3 are invited to submit proposals, due on or before March 1, for research posters by contacting Daniel Hummel, SRU assistant professor of philanthropy, nonprofit leadership and public affairs, at

The event is free and open to the public and includes lunch and free transportation from SRU to the hospital. For additional information or to register, which is required, contact Hummel.

"It's our hope to share with everyone that food insecurity doesn't just happen in big cities or 'somewhere else,'" said Del Vecchio. "Rural areas suffer just the same. We can all work together to do something about it and should."

MEDIA CONTACT: Lesa Bressanelli | 724.738.2091 |