Not so tricky treats

UB's Trick or Eat food drive provides local families with much-needed food


In addition to seeing a 4-foot-tall goblin this Halloween, you may see a 20-year-old college student asking for nonperishable food.

UB’s Center for Student Leadership and Community Engagement (CSLCE) organizes a Trick or Eat drive each Halloween. Student volunteers go trick-or-treating through local communities to collect non-perishable foods for the Food Bank of Western New York.

“UB has collectively donated several thousand pounds of food every year,” said Polla Milligan, the grant writer and food drive coordinator of the Food Bank of WNY. “Trick or Eat single-handedly raises more than 1,000 pounds of food every year.”

The Food Bank of Western New York is one of the 200 food banks across the country and one of eight in New York. It caters to the Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie and Niagara Counties and operates through its 330 member agencies, which include soup kitchens, shelters and food pantries.

According to Jennifer Jerussi, a graduate student in higher education and graduate intern for the leadership center, 57 people participated in last year’s event and raised approximately 1,440 pounds of food.

“This year we hope to have 100 students participate and collect an even greater amount of food,” Jerussi said.

A truck will be parked on campus this Halloween and students and local community members can drop off canned goods. A food barrel will also be placed in SU 350 until Thanksgiving where students can drop off nonperishable foods.

After the Food Bank receives the food, a group of volunteers go through each item and check expiration dates and health implications to ensure they are fit for distribution and consumption. Then, the food is stored and used to feed more than 100,000 people, according to Milligan.

Alexandra Van Hall, a junior chemistry major, has been participating in Trick or Eat every year since her freshman year at UB. She said Trick or Eat is a creative way to help the community.

“It’s a fun way to turn a holiday into a chance to give back,” Hall said. “When I see the truck full of canned goods at the end of the night, it makes it clear what we’ve accomplished.”

This year, Patricia Johnson, a junior chemistry major, will take part in her third Trick or Eat event. Johnson, who works as an undergraduate science mentor with the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Partnership (ISEP) at Riverside High School, sees unprivileged children who do not get enough to eat every day.

“Hunger prevents them from focusing in class and having a good attitude toward school,” Johnson said. “Hunger is a real problem, not only in distant countries, but also in Buffalo.”

Makenzie Depetrillo, a freshman psychology major, plans on participating in Trick or Eat for the first time this year.

“Halloween is my favorite holiday,” DePetrillo said. “Trick or Eat gives me a chance to make people as happy as I am on Halloween.”

Students can sign up to participate in Trick or Eat by visiting the CSLCE. Check in for the event begins at 4 p.m. in the Student Union Lobby.