KOKOMO, Ind. — A successful food drive by Indiana University Kokomo nursing students earned them statewide bragging rights.
But the real winners are their fellow students who use the Cougar Cupboard campus food pantry.
Members of the Alpha Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau nursing honorary were the top collectors among students from nine IU School of Nursing campuses in an October food drive, bringing in 297 items. While the competition ended October 31, IU Kokomo students continued collecting through November 17 to help restock the campus pantry, collecting 660 shelf-stable, non-perishable food items.
Senior Sydney Robison said as future nurses, they consider people’s overall wellbeing, and food is an important component.
“In this profession, the ethical principle is doing the best you can for your patients, wanting to have them nourished with the items they need,” the Rochester resident said. “Going to school on an empty stomach, or not knowing where your next meal comes from, that’s a huge burden to families. I wanted to help because I don’t want someone to have to worry about that.”
Susan Plough, IU Kokomo School of Nursing and Allied Health Professions (SNAHP) chapter advisor, noted that student leaders planned the whole drive.
“I’m so proud of those who stepped up to make this happen,” she said. “From planning it, going to different cohorts to get the word out, to making flyers and keeping track of the number of items, they did it all.”
Naomi Fakolade, a senior from Houston, Texas, said donations came at a critical time for the Cougar Cupboard, with a 50 percent increase in numbers of food orders this school year compared to last. It provides the campus community free non-perishable food, hygiene items, and school supplies.
As a senior graduating in December Katie Robison, also of Rochester, said participating was especially meaningful.
“We’ve been told we should leave a legacy behind, and this is something important to put our efforts behind, especially since inflation has caused the price of food to increase significantly,” she said. “When you don’t have food, your health starts to deteriorate, and it has an ongoing effect.”
Having grown up in poverty, Kate Smith, from Greentown, was happy to participate.
“The ability to give back is really powerful,” she said. “I know what it’s like, and as a nurse, being able to make a positive impact in someone else’s life, even if it’s just toothpaste, means a lot.”
She added that those who need the cupboard’s resources can request them anonymously, and their fellow students will not be aware. She hopes they know the campus community is behind them.
“The people who use the cupboard don’t all look the same, and they can’t be put in a box,” Smith said. “Their situations are unique, and they are doing their best. We support them and we cheer for them, even though we don’t know who they are.”