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‘Accessible form of giving back’: Service Squad hosts annual Thanksgiving food drive

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Photo credit: Sydney Tilles
Service Squad member Avery Greene (’26) donates food to the Service Squad’s annual Thanksgiving food drive Nov. 12-17. They created posters and set up bins for food in the front hallway, and at the end of the week, Greene sorted the food to be ready for donation. 

According to a recent study from the University of Southern California, 44% of Los Angeles households are food insecure. Moreover, the 2023 food-insecure population has reached an all-time high, with a 6% increase from last year, with a 2019 study conducted by L.A. Works showing that over 2 billion people are struggling from this issue globally.

To help combat this issue, the Service Squad hosted their annual Thanksgiving food drive Nov. 12-17. They partnered with Westside Food Bank to donate food gathered by the Archer community. Westside Food Bank is located in Santa Monica and distributes over 4.7 million pounds of food to underprivileged people a year.

Service Learning Coordinator Meg Shirk is the leader of the Service Squad and one of the organizers of this year’s Thanksgiving food drive. She said one of the reasons she likes food drives is because they are an accessible entry point for giving back. She added that you do not need to donate a large amount of food to make an impact — bringing one can of food from your pantry is a sufficient way to give back to the community.

“I think food drives are just an accessible form of giving back because you can give back in whatever way you can. I think with the holidays approaching, you think so much about what you’re grateful for,” Shirk said. “Having drives around the holiday seasons just helps you remember the things that you’re grateful for, the blessings that you have in your own life and thinking about how not everybody has that.”

Stephanie Harrison (’24) is a board member for the Artemis Center, and her service field is in food insecurity. She has loved to cook ever since she was young and said she realized, as she got older, that not everyone has wide accessibility to food, let alone being able to cook as a hobby.

“The holidays are such a special time emotionally for people. So many people have fond memories regarding observing their winter religious holiday with their families or just enjoying winter break. Having these memories, many of which revolve around food … the absence of food can be an especially painful reminder during the holiday season,” Harrison said. “Especially on holiday so food-centric like Thanksgiving.”

Harrison volunteers at Food Forward as her way of giving back to the greater community. There are over $408 billion worth of food waste every year, and Food Forward recovers the foods that would have been wasted and gives them to underprivileged families.

“I urge the Archer community to get involved in any way they can, and Food Forward is a fantastic organization,” Harrison said. “Donate to food banks when there are food drives — even at Archer — because it’s a really wonderful thing to be able to help somebody else in need and to be able to help your own local community.”

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About the Contributor
Sydney Tilles, Senior Reporter
Sydney Tilles joined the Oracle as a staff reporter in 2022 and became a senior reporter in 2023. She is on the Archer tennis team and dance company. She loves learning about current events, participating in service learning and activism. She has a passion for government, politics, and social justice.

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