Food for Thought is a semester-long service learning project coordinated by Northwestern Michigan College students in Kristy McDonald’s Professional Communications class in partnership with the Northwest Food Coalition.
Kristy explains how a business communications class became the unlikely vehicle for an effort that is having a major impact on food security in our area. “I was teaching the common things: how to write a resume, how develop a business letter and all the other pieces you need to know to communicate successfully in business. The grades were low, attendance was low, and I knew there had to be a better way. I realized you have to put meaning behind it. If there’s nothing there, what are you striving for? I retooled the class and the work last year’s students did was amazing: nobody dropped, nobody failed. They wrote letters, communicated with business and the community and their drive collected over 20,000 food items, filling one semi and part of another.”
Success like that has serious meaning in our area: The food stocked a dozen of the most needy pantries, feeding an estimated 5,000 people for 4 months and showing students that their class work could translate to real world success.
Teresa Nichols is a Business Administration major who is tasked with spearheading communication and events. She says “It’s service learning, so you’re not just going in and writing papers and giving speeches. When we write our business letters, we actually get a response. When we give speeches in the community, people give back. The giving part is great as I was born and raised here, but it’s more than that. We’re getting to know our fellow students and you don’t always get that bonding.”
Carl Rocheleau is in the Aviation Program. His 9 years experience flying cargo for UPS prompted the class to make him the logistics manager, coordinating pickup, drop-off and storage. He says, “The reaction from the public who we’re meeting as we collect the donations is incredible. So many people are so grateful to see college students volunteer time outside the classroom. They want to stop and talk to us about the program and what we’re doing.”
The Food for Thought Drive is challenging the community to collect non-perishable food items to fill the 51 pantries in the five-county area through November 15.
On November 9th, the students are going to have a public day at the NMC Aero Park campus. For 10 cans per family or 5 per person you can have a rare opportunity to fly NMC’s drone planes and enjoy Lego robotics who will be there as well.
Food drop-off sites
- Main buildings at NMC’s campus main, University Center, and Aero Park campuses
- Traverse City Walmart: Nov. 2 and 3, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
- Aero Park Campus Unmanned Vehicle and Robotics Food Drive: Nov. 9, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
- Traverse City Aldi: Nov. 10, 12 – 6 p.m.