Sustainability in Action class hosts Feeding San Diego food drive

The Point Loma Nazarene University course BUS 4075: Sustainability in Action, hosted a food drive for the non-profit Feeding San Diego from Nov. 27 to Dec. 4.

According to Mandy Morrell, an assistant professor of Management and the professor of Sustainability in Action, although PLNU has partnered with Feeding San Diego before, this event marks the first time the course has partnered with them.

To participate in the drive, people donated canned goods into cardboard boxes at various locations on PLNU’s main campus, the Liberty Station campus, the Mission Valley campus and the Balboa campus.

Morrell emphasized supporting the San Diego community as a reason for the drive.

“San Diego is an expensive place to live, and the cost of living has only gone up,” Morrell said. “So this is a fantastic way for us to really kind of put legs in supporting our community — and there’s no reason anybody should go hungry at the holiday season.”

According to the San Diego Hunger Coalition, “as of June 2023, nearly 1 in 4 (24%) San Diegans experience nutrition insecurity, or are unable to provide three, nutritious meals per day for themselves and/or their families.”

“The need is up right now all across San Diego,” Morrell said.

According to Ryan Whitener, a third-year organizational communication major who is a student in Morrell’s class, students designated various roles in running the food drive; some roles included working on box placement logistics, poster design and financial communication with Feeding San Diego.

“My responsibility is faculty outreach,” Whitener said. 

He said that he pitched the food drive project at a faculty meeting and kept in contact with the various PLNU departments to encourage participation in the drive.

Although she came up with the idea, Morrell said that the students helped run everything.

Morrell said she was a manager professor who was there to support her students, answer their questions and check in with their progress.

“I’m kind of just the middleman,” Morrell said. “This is really the students taking initiative and trying to do something good for our community, which is really kind of the hallmark of what we’re about.”

Sydney Cheng, a fourth-year applied health science major who is also a student in Sustainability in Action, helped keep the project organized. This included creating a spreadsheet, creating a timeline and compiling the students’ contact information; she said she also made a flyer.

Cheng said, “We all thought that this would be a really cool opportunity to give back to our local San Diego area and then also just find a way to tie it in with our class mission statement.”

This mission statement, Cheng said, is about finding ways to create a sustainable environment at school.

According to Morrell, her class dives into societal topics such as creating an equitable world, caring for the planet and cultivating community. Her class focuses on using business to provide solutions to societal problems.

“It’s an action class,” Morrell said. “So, it’s not just learning about sustainability. It’s figuring out how do we live more sustainable lives—how do we put it into action in our own lives.”

Whitener shared his own experience with putting the class content into action.

“Doing this food drive as a class and part of a course curriculum has really allowed me to not only test my creative knowledge but also practically apply what I’ve been — you know — made aware of through this course,” Whitener said.

As for how a food drive practices sustainability, Cheng said, “It’s definitely the idea of reducing food waste.”

She added that college students are new to buying food for themselves and can run into the problem of food waste: buying too much food, allowing the excess to go bad and tossing that food out.

According to Feeding San Diego, “About 76% of the food [they] distribute is rescued.”

Morrell also said she encourages her students to influence the people around them: acquaintances, co-workers, friends and family.

Whitener and Cheng both said the food drive is their class’s final project.

Although BUS 4075’s food drive ended on Dec. 4., PLNU students and staff can donate money to Feeding San Diego at feedingsandiego.org.