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Gamecocks Conduct Nutritious Food Drive for Those in Need
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Gamecocks Conduct Nutritious Food Drive for Those in Need

by Brad Muller, Director of Content

South Carolina student-athletes want to help struggling members of the community obtain access to healthy food. Spearheaded by basketball redshirt sophomore Laeticia Amihere and track & field sophomore Angel Frank, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (S.A.A.C) partnered with a local homeless shelter for a food drive to benefit people within the state’s food deserts, which are low-income communities that have limited access to healthy and affordable food. The community engagement opportunity started as an initiative for Black History Month and has carried over into March so they can take in more donations.

“I’m the head of the diversity and inclusion committee, and the whole year I wanted to do a food drive,” said Amihere, who is studying sport and entertainment management. “I started researching some of the homeless shelters around, and I got in touch with Transitions homeless shelter. They let us know that because of COVID, there were so many budget cuts. Many major companies that used to donate their food to these shelters weren’t able to, because they didn’t have it in their budgets. Angel suggested that we incorporate it into Black History Month so we could talk about food deserts.”

“We were talking about how we could actually bring change,” Frank said, who is majoring in visual communications with a minor in health promotion education. “We didn’t just want to donate food. We wanted it to be healthy, so we could help combat food justice. The black community is disproportionately affected by what they eat and the access that they have.”

Amihere and Frank spread the word through the various Gamecocks Athletics teams to help bring in the needed food items.

“It’s an easy way for our student-athletes to get involved and help other people,” Amihere said. “It’s not really taking money out of our pockets because we’re able to use money that we’d often use on groceries.

“The thing that I admire about this school is that the student-athletes are really involved, and they want to look for opportunities to help out. We got a lot of donations, so I was really excited about that.”

“We’re asking for fresh produce, such as bananas, clementines, apples, and we asked for trail mix, granola bars and healthier snacks.”
– Angel Frank

The S.A.A.C. members created a video and graphics to post on the various social media channels for the South Carolina Athletics programs.

“We got the word out through our own teams,” Frank said. “We didn’t really discuss a goal. We just wanted to get as much as possible. We’ll distribute it to Transitions so their chefs can cook it up.”
angel frank carolina challenge - 2021
Angel  Frank 

The Gamecocks noted that blacks make up 84-percent of food insecure residents in the Columbia area, and more than 65,000 Richland County residents are food insecure.

“During COVID last March, I started eating healthier for training purposes, and also for my overall health,” Frank said. “I really got into the research of that and how it affects the body. It’s one of the biggest ways to help the community because heart disease is one of the number one killers across the world, and in African Americans and African American males. I was really passionate about it, and that’s what made me want to do it.”

Among the healthy items that are needed are fresh produce and other goods such as canned fruit, grains, rice, pasta, oatmeal, as well as crackers, apple sauce and other healthy snack items.

“We’re asking for fresh produce, such as bananas, clementines, apples, and we asked for trail mix, granola bars and healthier snacks,” Frank said.

The Gamecocks know how proper nutrition fuels them as student-athletes and how it makes them feel. The attention to their own bodies as well as their training has paid off as Frank is part of South Carolina’s 4x400m relay team as an alternate, which recently qualified for the NCAA Nationally Championships, while Amihere is a steady contributor for the Gamecocks nationally ranked basketball team.

Anyone interested in donating items can drop them off at the Dodie Academic Enrichment Center in the South Carolina Athletics Village.