Food drive embraces hybrid workforce, new ways to raise funds

Food Drive barrels

The annual Governor’s State Employees Food Drive began Feb. 1, and coordinators from every corner of campus are adapting to the changes the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the workforce. With many employees operating on a hybrid schedule mixing on-campus and remote work, some department coordinators have tailored fundraising efforts to this new environment.

Many more employees are working on campus than last February and some activities have returned, like decorating food collection barrels across campus. Others are new this year. The food drive coordinators for Johnson Hall and University Communications have promised a campus visit from Caesar the No Drama Llama for hugs and photos if their departmental fundraising goal is met. 

“Most people would say bringing a llama to Johnson Hall is a ridiculous, unattainable dream, but our coordinator team didn't even bat an eye, they were so encouraging,” said Noemi Sepe, executive assistant in the Office of the Provost. “I think what's made our events so successful in the past is that we try to do one familiar event and one new event each year, and then just go full throttle.”

To involve hybrid workers and be conscientious of varying comfort levels with in-person events many of the fundraising opportunities are still taking place virtually, though they are no less engaging. UO Libraries food drive coordinators are leaning into their creativity and experimenting with novel virtual events throughout the month of February, including a Valentine’s Day piano concert, a live Barre3 workout, and a cocktail/mocktail class.

“We tried to include a variety of options with a low barrier to entry, so our colleagues can choose something that sounds appealing to them,” said Rayne Vieger, eLearning and OER coordinator for the UO Libraries. “Although I think that our colleagues would donate anyway without getting something in return, several of them have expressed that they are excited for these fun, community-building events that support a worthy cause.”

The efforts by UO employees benefitting the food drive not only raise money to support community members in need, they also raise awareness of the pervasive problem of food insecurity and bring the university community together.

“Most of us would attest to how easy it is to get stuck in our bubbles, but fundraising events work for a reason — they provide us with an opportunity to uplift one another,” Sepe said. “At the end of the day, it's not about what drawing you won or who gave the most. It's about that time we spent coming together as a team to help make a difference in our community.”

The food drive runs Feb. 1 to 28. For more information see your department’s food drive site coordinator, or join the O365_Governor’s Food Drive team in Microsoft Teams. If you aren’t sure who the coordinator is, email fooddrive@uoregon.edu to get connected.