Bowling for Food to raise awareness and donations for homeless students

By Tom Moore
Contributing Writer

social justice

In Escambia and Santa Rosa counties, more than 1,000 people were documented as homeless in 2015, according to the EscaRosa Coalition on the Homeless.

But what people might not realize is that a large segment of the homeless population is college students. This is because there is no established organization or government agency that keeps a homeless student census. The only records of homeless students are kept on the Federal Application for Student Aid (FASFA). According to the FASFA application form, 56,000 college students around the country are below the poverty line, if not outright homeless.

The Bowling for Food campaign is the University of West Florida’s latest attempt to address this problem. As part of instructor Gloria Horning’s social justice movements class, this project involves raising awareness of the homeless student situation through a food drive and a bowling event tentatively scheduled for 11 a.m. April 7 on the Cannon Green.

“I hope to instill in my students the importance of giving back to the community and inciting social change,” Horning said. “I believe this is where a majority of future communications art majors will end up — working for nonprofits, or starting movements of their own.”

The goal of Bowling for Food is to raise between 25 and 100 pounds of canned food for the Argo Pantry, a campus organization committed to helping UWF students who are in need of assistance through the distribution of food and other basic supplies.

“We are extremely grateful to the dedication and hard work of these students,” said Lusharon Wiley, director of Argo Pantry. “We here at Argo Pantry have worked really hard to provide the basic necessities for the most vulnerable students on campus. So far we have been able to keep up, but the demand for our services continues to grow. The Bowling for Food campaign is helping us expand as well, and to meet that growing demand.”

By collecting food from all the departments and organizations on campus, Bowling for Food is raising awareness for homeless students one building at a time. With each box that is set up in the various buildings on campus, a flyer is attached. These flyers provide information about the problem of student homelessness and the project to raise awareness and boost food contributions to Argo Pantry.

At the Bowling for Food event, participants will get an opportunity to bowl and purchase a slice of pizza for 25 cents. Participants can bowl as many times as they like, and all proceeds will go to Argo Pantry.

Non-food items, such as toothbrushes, soap, toiletries and socks, also are welcome. Click here to view Argo Pantry’s suggested item donation list. A small first aid kit and a copy of the EscaRosa Coalition’s Street Survival Guide also will be provided to place in the packets for students in need of assistance. The Street Survival Guide booklet has all kinds of information about the current services available to homeless individuals locally and how to apply for them. Food, clothing, healthcare, shelter, childcare and much more is included in the guide.

For more on UWF Social Justice, visit the Facebook page.