SOM sends students to East Haven food bank

In celebration of Black History Month, approximately 20 members of the School of Management’s Black Business Alliance volunteered at the Connecticut Food Bank in East Haven last Friday.

BBA sent students in two three-hour long shifts, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Each shift included an hour-long orientation session educating volunteers about hunger in Connecticut, after which the participants sorted and packaged donations to be shipped and distributed to the needy.

Connecticut Food Bank, which receives and ships food donations to shelters and agencies where the food is distributed to the hungry, is responsible for providing hunger relief in six of Connecticut’s eight counties, Volunteer Coordinator Tony Spinelli said.

Project Coordinator Alicia Johnson ’99 SOM ’06 said she thinks working at a food bank is an important contribution that also allows volunteers to make a difference within a short period of time. Johnson said leadership-building was the primary theme of the BBA Black History Month events this year, and she said the service project was consistent with this message.

“It’s a good Day of Service project, because you can go in and make an impact in only one day,” Johnson said. “They really need manpower every day of the week, so every bit that you can give helps.”

BBA member Shelley Clifford SOM ’07, who will begin her term as BBA president after the School of Management returns from its spring break, said she hopes to continue the organization’s involvement with food banks.

“Next year I’d hope to expand on this and do more days here, or even go to a shelter where we can actually distribute the food to the needy,” Clifford said. “We have such a hunger problem in Connecticut, and this day is about getting exposed to problems, getting that knowledge out and trying to come up with solutions.”

Johnson said the orientation session presented one statistic ranking New Haven 163 out of 169 Connecticut towns in terms of food security.

In addition to the efforts of their volunteers, BBA made a small cash donation to Connecticut Food Bank and its programs by collecting funds from their fellow classmates, Clifford said. The students donated a total of $307, which will go toward the food bank’s programs and operations, Spinelli said.

“I think this is the first group we’ve had from Yale’s business school, but they’re doing a terrific job and we’d absolutely love to have them back,” Spinelli said.

Of the Connecticut Food Bank’s five locations throughout the state, Spinelli said the East Haven warehouse location is the largest. The food bank’s East Haven location has had a variety of Yale organizations volunteer in the past, he said.

“We’ve also had Yale alumni groups, and the Yale baseball team has come a couple of times,” Spinelli said. “Dwight Hall does a lot of volunteering as well. Two weeks ago we actually had a group of 20 lawyers and undergrads volunteer when the firm Vinson & Elkins made a recruiting visit to Yale — the recruiters made a real event out of it.”

Other BBA-sponsored Black History Month activities included a screening of the movie “Crash” followed by small group discussions about the film’s racial themes, as well as BBA’s annual dinner, which featured a guest speaker from the National Urban League.

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