By Julee Cobb
Faculty, staff and students at Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus are hoping to make an impact on the local hunger problem after collecting almost 3,000 pounds of spaghetti for the Salina community.
Kansas State Polytechnic teamed up with Project Salina, an organization that gathers food for distribution to Salina residents who cannot afford to buy meals for themselves, and set a goal of accumulating 2,500 pounds of spaghetti. Within a four-week time period, members of the polytechnic campus not only answered the call for help, they donated in droves. At the end of the Project Salina campaign, faculty, staff members and students had given 2,950 pounds of noodles largely outweighing what was expected.
Les Kinsler, a professor in the computer systems technology program who retired in May, spearheaded the event and also previously has organized blood drives on campus. He enjoys leading philanthropy opportunities because it brings people together and brings about an awareness of meaningful issues.
“I think it is very important that the university and our campus be involved with local groups and organizations,” said Kinsler. “We live in a little social unit of students, faculty and staff, and it’s easy to loose track of the needs and happenings of the larger community.”
Project Salina was established in 1990 to assist various food agencies in the city with keeping their shelves full year round, not just during the holiday season. Entities, like Kansas State Polytechnic, that initiate a food drive are assigned one non-perishable item, such as spaghetti, and a contribution goal so that Project Salina can accurately plan their amount of stock. According to Feeding America, more than 8,000 residents in Saline County, where Salina is located, needed help putting food on the table in 2014.
Along with assisting Project Salina and the American Red Cross, Kansas State Polytechnic clubs and organizations require their student members to perform community service. Examples of their philanthropy include volunteering at local retirement communities, within various Salina events like Parade of Lights, and at the VFW, Lions Club and Big Brothers Big Sisters.