By Marie Veillette
Throughout the past month, MSUM students, staff and faculty, as well as surrounding Moorhead residents, helped donate 1,406 food items to the Fill the Dome campaign.
The collection on campus began with the trick-o-canning event Halloween night, where volunteers collected 1,120 items from Moorhead residents. The other 286 items were brought in through the baskets spread across campus.
This year marks a milestone in the history of the campaign, with the amount of food donated totaling over one million meals since Fill the Dome began in 2007. This number does not take into account monetary donations; the millionth meal was provided in 2012 if the two factors are combined.
Before this year, Fill the Dome had donated enough pounds of food to equate to 949,048 meals, according to Cathy Herbold, programs manager for Great Plains Food Bank, where all the proceeds of Fill the Dome are donated. Approximately 1.3 pounds of food or 25 cents equals a meal.
This year, the campaign collected 162,266 pounds of food, pushing past the million mark.
MSUM has supported Fill the Dome in past years, but this was the first year student organizations collaborated and efforts were organized to include the whole campus community.
The trick-o-canning event has been done the past four years, said biosciences professor Shireen Alemadi. Alemadi is also the advisor for Tri-Beta, a student organization that has been involved with Fill the Dome in the past.
“For years there have been different student groups on campus that have participated in trick-o-canning, and then the food would be dropped off at a local charity in need,” she said. “But this year we wanted to make a more directed effort to gather as much as possible and support the Fill the Dome campaign.”
The event’s lack of organization in the past would sometimes lead to the same houses being asked multiple times to donate. This year, each group of trick-o-canners was assigned a specific zone of the city to minimize doubling up.
Nikolas Newville, outreach coordinator for the Dragon Entertainment Group, volunteered for the event. Dressed as a ketchup bottle, he and three other members of the organization went door to door. His group was successful, and had to stop to empty the bags into their car before completing their assigned route.
The Dragon Entertainment Group also hosted a Mr. and Ms. MSUM pageant, taking monetary or food donations in place of admission. The event is held each year to support different charities. The organization collected $50 and 40 donated food items.
In 2007 Alex Windjue was student body president at West Fargo High School. After inviting other student body presidents from area schools to meet with him, they decided to collaborate and create Fill the Dome.
The campaign continues to be completely student organized Danielle Dube, a Metro Area Student Ambassador and senior at West Fargo High School said. The advertising for the event is paid for through sponsors that students work to gain. On the day of collection, over 60 schools send food items and volunteers to Fill the Dome.
Each year, the event is a little different depending on what the ambassadors decide.
“The money that is donated through the schools is given to the food bank, in which they will distribute to their various programs,” Dube said. “This year we have asked that a majority of the money be put towards the backpack program.”
The backpack program provides meals to children who may not be getting the nourishment they need at home. Teachers discreetly give selected students food to bring home and eat over the weekend when they are not provided school lunch.
As for whether or not Fill the Dome will happen again next year, “it will all depend on what the 2015-16 ambassadors decide,” Dube said.
This year, the chance to make a difference in the area was valuable, Alemadi said.
“It is important to provide opportunities for MSUM students, staff and faculty to get involved and give back to the community,” she said. “I think there are many ways to mentor and teach students outside the classroom setting, and this was one of them.”