Skidmore goes to school on hunger
(Reprinted from the Daily Gazette, December 13, 2006)
For too many students, the college experience is limited to studying and socializing. For Skidmore College students it now also includes learning and caring about those less fortunate, thanks to a new program that has engaged the entire school community in collecting food items for the local food pantry and soup kitchen.
This excellent idea came from Marie Glotzbach, wife of Skidmore's president and a lecturer in its theater department. And it has been a big success, far surpassing expectations.
The program, called Skidmore Cares, had two purposes. One was to make sure the food pantry had enough food on hand during the holiday season, a particularly busy time. The goal was to provide it with one month's worth of food, through the collection of both canned goods and money.
The second purpose was to create a sense of community on campus, with students, faculty and support staff all focusing on a problem in the greater community and working together to alleviate it.
Students have really responded, for instance, with dorms competing to see which one could raise the most canned goods and money. In one dorm, 100 percent of the students participated. As a result, the school may be able to provide twice as much food as anticipated, or two months' worth.
Students at Skidmore pay about $42,000 for a year of school, three or four times as much as many of the people at the food pantry make. They haven't missed many meals in their young lives, and aren't likely to in the future. But they can empathize and care, and do what they can to help.
Programs like this one, and Union College's freshman-year volunteer requirement in the inner city, are no less a learning experience than a class in a lecture hall, and probably more valuable.
©2006 the Daily Gazette