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Non-traditional student takes on volunteering

| Jessica Wicklund

As a full-time non-traditional student working part-time and raising a child, Erika Stang found time to give back for her service-learning project at Feed My People Food Bank.

Feed My People Food Bank distributed seven million pounds of food to over 125 agencies in 2015 and nearly 70,000 citizens depend on this food source.

Erika described the immediate impact of Feed My People Food Bank throughout Eau Claire. “How much hunger is in our area is awakening. I knew about the school meals that were being offered, but it’s amazing to see the vast amount of food they provide. They distribute fresh produce, not just bulk foods in cans.”

Feed My People Food Bank provides local food pantries, mobile food banks and weekend meals. For every dollar donated to Feed My People Food Bank, one consumer is able to purchase $10 worth of food.

 “Volunteering at Feed My People Food Bank is a passion of mine because food is a staple for learning and nutrition. Kids learn eating habits so early in life, and we pack that bulk food in individual bags to be distributed out to students in Eau Claire schools.”

Erika explained her son’s first experience at Feed My People Food Bank. “The first day he volunteered with me, he said, ‘Wow, I can’t believe what we just did. I can’t believe how many kids are hungry.’ For somebody of that age to realize how many people are in need, it opened my eyes again to realize how many people we are impacting daily. Not only am I learning, but I am also teaching my son how to pass things forward.”

According to Feed My People Food Bank, 58% of households served report having to choose between paying for housing or paying for food.

“When I decided to make this service-learning project worth my while, the satisfaction of providing this food came quickly. Knowing that you are helping somebody, even though you don’t know them, someone will reap those benefits later. I am a strong believer in paying things forward and you just hope that giving back will start a chain reaction. Those of us that are more well-to-do than others, I think it’s our obligation to give back to those who are less fortunate.”

“Coming from a non-traditional student, in order to be well-rounded after graduation, you need to get out there and explore more than what is provided for you. There are so many opportunities within the Center for Service-Learning.”

Erika will graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in December 2016 and will return to balancing her full-time career and raising her son.