Western University’s Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity raised around 15,000 pounds in food for the London Food Bank as part of their annual food drive, breaking their personal record.
The fraternity’s president, Zander Martins, said this year’s collection broke Lambda Chi Alpha’s donation record as the 15,000 pounds of food translated to an estimated value of over $39,000. In addition to the food, the fraternity collected around $5,000 worth of cash donations.
“We've been doing the food drive pretty regularly every year. The North American Food Drive is our international fraternities philanthropy and at Western we've been doing it almost on and off every year since our founding in the 90s,” said Martins. “I really wanted us to break the record, especially right now because food banks are really low on food donations at the moment.”
The London Food Bank’s mandate is to act as a front-line agency to assist those struggling with food insecurity while also serving as a food warehouse and supplying food provisions to agencies that assist people in need.
According to Martins, the process of collecting donations is a long one.
“We have routes all throughout the city where the guys after class will go and drop off bags that are provided by the food bank. On the bag we’ll have a little description of what we're doing and then leave [them] on [peoples’] porch and we come pick them up.”
The fraternity works with the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority to staple leaflets to around 5,000 bags each year that are left outside homes and to pick up the bags to give to the food bank. The drive usually operates in the Old North area of London, allowing both students and London community members to donate.
The coronavirus pandemic amplified the challenges involved with conducting the food drive, leaving the fraternity with no choice but to cancel it last year.
“Last year, with the need for social distancing and not gathering in groups, [the food drive] was just unfeasible,” said Martins. “We couldn't have five guys doing 5,000 bags, [that] just wouldn't work. So it just became impossible.”
The London Food Bank has experienced a shortage of donations as a result of COVID-19, but continued to operate at normal working hours and service levels, with donations still being received.
According to the London Food Bank’s website, the most needed non-perishable foods are canned vegetables and fruit, canned tomatoes, canned tuna and salmon, peanut butter, dried vegetables, special-diet foods and healthy breakfast cereal.
This year, the fraternity’s goal was not only to re-launch the food drive but to break their own record for donations.
“COVID has taught us that we need to be able to rely on one another especially when we weren't able to see our own friends and extended family for an extended period,” said Martins.