Class Of 2019 Takes On University Food Drive Tradition

Dakota Wesleyan University unites Mitchell community and students through food drive

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One in eight South Dakotans are food insecure, and for more than two decades the incoming freshmen at Dakota Wesleyan University (DWU) have been doing their part to help those people across the state.

The freshman food drive is a way to help the Mitchell community, as well as a way to expose the new students to campus culture.

Junior Landon Fishbach knows the feeling of unfamiliar territory and that unfamiliarity can be daunting.

But service programs like the annual freshman food drive at DWU are helping him open up.

“I used to be introverted, now I am able to go out into the community and talk to pretty much anybody,” says Fishbach.

DWU’s new student orientation consists of class schedules and moving in, but also a day to collect food from the Mitchell community. All the food collected is to help the Mitchell Salvation Army.  

“We are committed to service in the community,” says Campus Pastor, Eric Van Meter.

“One of the most important things about their education is not just what they get in the classroom or what they do on the field, but how they serve their neighbors.”

He also says that interaction with their peers is also crucial in these first few days on campus – as new members of the community.

The Mitchel Salvation Army says there’s no question that Mitchell area residents will benefit from the food drive. But there’s another benefit; submerging new students into campus culture.

Morgan Ziegler is an incoming freshman at DWU.

“You get to know the people of Mitchell sometimes, people don’t get to go out and do everything so when you’re going door to door, they get to know who is joining their community,” she adds.

A pay it forward movement. Not only throughout Mitchell, but for all students who met their new neighbors on their first day.

“Someone helped these young men and women when they first set foot on campus to feel at home a lot of them really want to give back,” comments Van Meter.

Last year was a record-setting year for DWU. Over 4,600 pounds of food was donated to the pantry. Sunday’s canvassing brought in 4,000 pounds.

A well-honored tradition that, regardless of the amount donated, creates a close tie between DWU and the rest of Mitchell.