The Echo Effect - The King's Foodbank for Students
This month is national canned food month! I thought it would be a great opportunity to do a feature of an incredible food drive program that started at King’s about a year ago. It’s called the Echo Effect and it’s a great program that gives back to King’s as a whole. I asked Lynda Koot, who started the program, some questions about it. Here it is:
Q: What is the Echo Effect?
A: The Echo Effect is something that the Social Committee of King’s came up with about a year ago now. It is a way for staff and faculty to give back to students on a more regular basis. – An opportunity for staff and faculty to ‘echo’ a product that they buy regularly, which simply means buy more than one and donate it. Each month the Social Committee (the group that spearheads the Echo Effect) chooses a ‘type’ of product – things like breakfast foods, dry/canned goods, snack foods etc. We divide ourselves into 2 teams for friendly competition and then see which team can bring in the most donations. After 2 collection weeks the items become available for students. We usually set-up a few tables just outside the Student Life Hallway and put all the items out on the tables, along with a simple sign that says ‘If something on this table will help you out this month. And leave a few extra dollars in your wallet… Please help yourself.’ It makes it a fun way for us to give back to the students we are all here for.
Q: When did it start?
A: We started the Echo Effect last February (February 2019) and ran February - April and then came back again in October 2019 and ran October - December. We are back at it again and running Echo Effect February - April. Typically we have not run in September or January as people are just getting back and into classes and there is already enough chaos that time of year.
In our first year, we had almost 2000 items donated to our students between the staff/faculty contributions and one anonymous donor! The totals were: 196 breakfast foods, 897 dry goods, and 873 snack foods for a total of 1966 items being echoed back to our students.
Q: Why did you want to start the Echo Effect, or what was the heart behind it?
A: Because we are a smaller University we do not necessarily have the same supports as the larger institutions. This is not necessarily a bad thing, because being smaller also give us the ability to come up with our own more unique supports and solutions. We know that for many students the years that they are in school are much tougher on the financial side and they have made commitment and sacrifices for their education, and so we wanted to come up with a way to help support that. Often when room in the budget needs to be made to cover certain costs, it comes from the ‘grocery budget’. So we came up with the Echo Effect. We know that if it were not for our students we would not be here and so to give back to those who are the reason we have a place to come to everyday was super special for us.
Q: How have you seen the Echo Effect impact staff and faculty?
A: I think it is always a bit of an eye opener. We don’t always think about things until they are before us. So while it has been a fun challenge it reminds us to share the gifts that we have been given. In the bible, there are so many scripture verses on giving back, sharing the gifts we have and treating others with love. This is just one way that staff and faculty have been able to come together as one group and again ‘echo’ God’s love. We have had some staff or faculty members bring additional donations of bread, buns, English muffins, and fresh fruit on the actual donation day which is never counted into the total donations, they are just items in addition. I had one colleague say to me that the day all the food goes out for students is one of her ‘favorite days ever’.
Q: How have you seen it impact the students?
A: This one is a bit harder to answer – I mean for me personally – My wish is that this has always been something with no judgment, and I always wanted students to just simply feel free to come by the tables and take what they need so once the items have been put out, I don’t generally see anything. I do get a few emails from students saying how great this idea is and how much it meant to them which is so awesome! But when we ran the last one (in December 2019), we actually emailed the students letting them know when we would be putting out the tables (which is not something we have done in the past), but because it was during exams we wanted to be sure that everyone had the same opportunity to grab something. So there was a huge gathering of students waiting as we were setting up the tables and putting all the food items out and hearing them talk not only to each other, but to those of us putting the food out was so amazing to see. Everyone was so friendly and they were so excited. We were not giving away $100 gift cards but what we were giving was not only wanted and needed but so appreciated. And for me personally that makes it all worth it.
The Echo Effect is a great program that gives back to the King’s community as a whole. This February, think of ways that you can give back, whether it be through a food drive, volunteering and anything in between. It will feel great to give for yourself and others.