October 20, 2017  

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USM Sweet Potato Drop Raises Awareness about Food Insecurity

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The Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) at The University of Southern Mississippi will host a Sweet Potato Drop on Wednesday, Oct. 11 to address and raise awareness about food insecurity in the Pine Belt area. 

An 18-wheeler loaded with sweet potatoes will deposit approximately 20,000 pounds of sweet potatoes onto the paved area between USM’s Cook Library and Centennial Green. From 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., volunteers are invited to bag the sweet potatoes into individual family-sized sacks, which will be donated to three local organizations: Edwards Street Fellowship Center, The Salvation Army of Hattiesburg, and Christian Services. 

The drop is arranged through The Society of St. Andrew, which salvages produce that is rejected by commercial markets because of slight imperfections in size, shape, sugar content, or surface blemishes.

“The Sweet Potato Drop is a fun way to educate our students and the community about food insecurity and to introduce them to potential solutions like gathering unwanted produce that often goes to waste,” said CCE Director Christy Arrazattee. “The fact that SGA chose to include this as part of Homecoming festivities speaks volumes at to the importance of community engagement to our student body and their development as socially responsible, engaged citizens.”

Several USM organizations are partnering with the CCE for the event. The USM Office of Sustainability will be on-site distributing educational materials about food insecurity and waste, while USM’s Department of Recreational Sports will lead participants in fun games and activities. A dietician from USM’s Health is Golden program will provide healthy sweet potato recipes. SGA has also invited local police and fire officials to visit with participants. 

"We are excited for Wednesday's potato drop for both community service and interaction,” said Jonathan Brent, SGA’s director of Homecoming. “The potato bagging will benefit those directly in our community, while the interaction with our campus police officers and others will be a great opportunity for our students to get the chance to thank them for all that they do for our campus and our community. That's what a day of service is all about."

This event is open to everyone. For more information, contact Arrazattee at cce@usm.edu or by phone at 601-266-6467.