Erin Fischesser

The Oxford Choice Food Pantry is working to serve an increased number of residents this holiday season, in the midst of an economic downturn.

Oxford Choice Food Pantry board member Lisa Gadaleta said the organization is experiencing an increase in demand for holiday food packages.

“Last year, for Thanksgiving we had 200 households,” Gadaleta said. “This year, at the deadline, we had 330 and we have had 30households sign up since then.”

Gadaleta said the food pantry is attributing much of the increased need to the current economic situation.

Families receive holiday packages containing “the usual holiday fare,” according to Gadaleta, including pumpkin pie filling, a variety of vegetables, soup, stuffing and cranberry sauce.

According to Gadaleta, the only requirement to apply for the holiday food is a self-declared need. The amount of food the pantry can give to families depends on the number of people living in a household.

Gadaleta said local churches donate food and money each month and that the Kiwanis hold a community food drive every year that greatly boosts the amount of food available, but student involvement is also greatly appreciated.

“We can always, always use help, especially this year with the economic crisis,” she said.

Gadaleta said that food drives are the most helpful form of assistance and suggested that students collect extra food as they leave for the holiday break.

According to employee Jess Foreman, Miami’s Recreational Sports Center (RSC) recently finished its annual food drive for The Oxford Choice Food Pantry.

Foreman said that club sports teams and various departments at the center participated in the two-week event.

“There is no ‘winner,’ however, club sports teams do receive monetary incentives for their club funding for the following year,” she said. “Other departments within the RSC also do incentives such as, Customer Service got to wear jeans on certain days if they brought in cans, and Aquatics employees didn’t have to swim as many laps at their in-service.”

Foreman estimated that nearly 1,000 cans were donated this year. She said in the past, more than 741 pounds of non-perishable food items were donated.

“As could be expected, RSC employees are very competitive and enjoy using that same competitive spirit to benefit the community,” Foreman said. “Although the RSC Canned Food Drive is not really competitive in nature, it’s fun for us to watch the pile of canned goods grow and see how numbers compare to the past.”

According to Foreman, the RSC will run a Penny War competition Dec. 1 to 14 to benefit the Oxford Family Resource Center.