5-minute read

Students pack meals and fight food insecurity

A student volunteer discusses the sixth annual "Feed the Funnel" event
Alberto Casas pours food into a container.
Alberto Casas pours food into a container during Ohio State's "Feed the Funnel" event.

When Alberto Casas came to Ohio State as a Morrill Scholar, he knew social justice and service work would be a part of his experience here.  

Casas, now a fourth-year undergraduate, has found many ways to get involved in leadership and volunteer opportunities, one being his role as vice president of campus engagement for Sigma Phi Epsilon.  

Even though his information systems specialization in the Fisher College of Business doesn’t always tie directly to service work, he has made it a priority to seek out ways to get involved in the community. 

Casas’ latest volunteer effort is helping to package meals for people in need at a “Feed the Funnel” event, where members of the Ohio State community have a chance to pack meals for those in need. The event is in its sixth year at Ohio State, and the meals packed will be distributed, in partnership with West Virginia University, among food-insecure communities near the Ohio-West Virginia border.

Casas, along with 630 fellow students, alumni, and friends of Ohio State, packed up more than 175,000 meals.  

Ohio State Impact spoke with Casas a few days before the event to learn more about the role service has played in his time at Ohio State. 

This food packing event seeks to help communities in need around Columbus and beyond. What does the issue of food insecurity mean to you?
To me, food insecurity is a very important problem. I feel like it’s one of the largest problems our country, including the communities in Ohio, face. Despite the size of the problem, it’s not spoken about often because it’s very stigmatizing to not have access to food. What’s motivated me to participate is knowing that our contribution is going to help toward fighting food insecurity, which became an even bigger problem due to COVID-19 and food price inflation. But (our efforts) will also help to destigmatize it, start a conversation about it, and maybe get more attention on the problem so people will feel more comfortable talking about it and seek help if they do face food insecurity. 
What other kinds of volunteering do you participate in? 
Most of the volunteering I do is through events I plan for my fraternity. Noteworthy events that we’ve done have been going to the Upper Arlington area and collecting spare food for a food drive as well as helping local community organizations with events, such as the Short North Alliance’s art auction. We often do food sales on Ohio State’s campus and we donate the proceeds to Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, so that’s our more consistent event. 
Portrait of Alberto Casas
Alberto Casas (Jodi Miller)
How did coming to Ohio State impact the way that you volunteer? Have you always had this sense of volunteerism, or did you discover that within yourself here? 
I came to Ohio State as a Morrill Scholar, so social and volunteer work was always a root cause of attending Ohio State. I did participate in volunteering opportunities in high school, mostly within the Hispanic community in Delaware, my home state.

But at Ohio State, my perspective and the way I approached it changed a little bit. I went from trying to be the sole contributor to seeking positions in leadership where I could influence other people to take part and kind of join our efforts to produce bigger results.  
What drives that passion for helping others for you and taking on your role in your fraternity? 
What’s made me seek out the position I’m in has been living by the motto of Sig Ep, which is “building balanced men.” I think it’s very important for us to live holistic lives where we have our own personal and professional goals, but I think it’s the responsibility of every citizen, when they can seek out opportunities, to give back and build the communities that we’ve taken a lot of value from.

Volunteers pack meals during Ohio State's "Feed the Funnel" event (Jodi Miller).
What other student organizations are you involved in? How have they enhanced your college experience? 
I’m involved in the Buckeye Undergraduate Consulting Club, which is more of a business-oriented club. It’s been very helpful for me because the organization’s structure gives opportunities for leadership where I can help companies solve problems they face.

I’ve also recently gotten involved in the Ohio State Boxing Club. Since boxing has always been a personal interest of mine, it’s really made me prioritize those interests and manage my time to be able to pursue them. I place volunteer work in that category where it’s a personal interest and it’s made me reevaluate how I can have more opportunities to do volunteering in my free time.  
What is your educational focus here at Ohio State and how has your experience been in the classroom? 
I’m in the Fisher College of Business and my specialization is information systems. Upon graduation, I’m going to work at a management consulting company. I started in the College of Engineering and quickly realized that it wasn’t the right major for me. But due to the resources at Ohio State, like summer courses and the flexibility to change colleges, I was able to quickly find a better fit for myself in Fisher and, since then, it’s been a good progression into my major.  
Do you see yourself using what you’ve learned about volunteering later in your life and career? 
Although I don’t think I’ll pursue a career in social justice or volunteer work, regardless of where I work, I’d like to get involved in employee resource groups or something along those lines where I could be put in contact with people of similar interests and see if we could do social projects or just kind of contribute to that resource group for a good cause.  

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