By Julianne Heberlein
The UMD Department of Transportation is hosting a food drive that will give students, faculty and visitors the opportunity to alleviate parking citations while benefitting the Campus Pantry.
The drive, called “1 Can Make a Difference,” is being held from Dec. 1-15. The student who donates the most non-perishable and non-expired food items will have a DOTS parking citation fully waived. For every item donated, students get $1 off a citation. Students can donate as many items as they want, but students will only receive a 50 percent maximum reduction of the base rate of their citation. The winner will be contacted after Jan. 3 and will receive a refund through the Office of the Bursar.
Students can donate non-perishable food items at Regents Parking Garage Monday through Friday from 8:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. or at Tawes Plaza on Dec. 11 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. DOTS also had a drop off location outside the Varsity Team House on Dec. 4.
The DOTS food drive idea was first implemented on campus in 2015, and Assistant Director for Marketing and Communications Cara Fleck anticipates the food drive to continue in future years.
“It’s so easy to just dig through your things in your dorm or apartment pantry to look for some canned goods or nonperishables that you haven’t touched all semester and stop by Regents Drive,” said Fleck. “It only takes a few minutes and you can get your parking citation reduced.”
Senior sociology major Ashley Vasquez has not donated to the food drive this year since she has not received a parking citation, but she participated two years ago when she had a $75 ticket. She saw the food drive’s ad on the DOTS website, so she bought enough canned food items to bring her citation down by 50 percent.
“They’re giving people the chance to cut [their citations] in half, but as well as donating to a great cause,” said Vasquez. “I think [the DMV] is such a great area for this because we have a lot of local homelessness that goes on and food insecurity, so this program helps to alleviate that.”
Senior economics and finance major Nate Zumbach heard about the food drive from a sign on campus but probably won’t participate although he’s previously received a DOTS parking citation.
“I appreciate food drives,” said Zumbach, but he would rather see the department match contributions instead of taking $1 off a ticket.
The Campus Pantry aims to alleviate food hardship by providing emergency food to students, faculty, and staff in need. It most greatly needs canned foods like fish, poultry, vegetables and beans. Other non-perishable items that are needed are dry pasta, rice, cereal, oatmeal, pasta sauce, peanut butter, jelly, baby food, canned milk, flour, spices and oil.