Fullerton College’s Thanksgiving drive-thru food drive marked 51 years of holiday giving

Crystal Bender

Fullerton College hosted a Thanksgiving drive-thru food drive on the morning of Nov. 24 between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. The event was a collaborative effort between the team from The Healthy Hornet Drive-Thru consisting of Pathways of Hope and Sodexo and the annual Fullerton College Thanksgiving Food Drive.

This year’s drive-thru event marked 51 years of annual food drives carried out by the division of support services MEChA Fullerton College and the Ethnic Studies department. The decision to collaborate with the Healthy Hornet Drive-Thru was made in light of social distancing guidelines during this semester of remote learning.

389 students signed up for the event. However, considering same-day sign-ups, more than 400 students were anticipated to attend by the closing of the event. Each student who dropped by was supplied with the usual Healthy Hornet food bags: one from Pathways of Hope and one from Sodexo.

Bags of food from drive-thru
Bags of food from the holiday drive-thru food drive. Photo credit: Fullerton College Facebook Page

In addition to the standard food provided, students received a special bag containing pre-cooked Thanksgiving dinner style meals, pies and dinner rolls. Also provided by the Thanksgiving Food Drive were $25 gift cards to grocery stores meant to compensate for additional student needs.

Dana Timmermans, the Student Health Services and Food Bank director, and Sonia Duran, the director of EOPS/CARE, CalWORKS and FYSI, are part of the team that operates the Healthy Hornet Drive-Thru.

Timmermans and Duran shared that staff periodically asked students as they picked up their food to share something aside from the food drive that they felt grateful for, and received responses relating to family, health and being alive another day.

“It’s been really touching. Some students shared that some of their close loved ones had passed. It’s a happy time, but it’s also a sad time for some,” Timmermans stated.

Staff from the Thanksgiving drive-thru on Tuesday distributing bags.
Staff from the Thanksgiving drive-thru on Tuesday distributing bags. Photo credit: Fullerton College Facebook Page

Students have been expressing constant gratitude for the Healthy Hornets program. Duran revealed that the program has officially served over 9,000 students as of last week.

One of the founders of the Thanksgiving Food Drive, Adela Lopez, made a surprise appearance to drop off gift card donations. She expressed gratitude to those running the event for carrying on its legacy.

“We have to think how we can best meet the needs of students, to help keep them in school,” Timmermans said, referencing the motivation to operate the weekly Healthy Hornets drive-thru program.

Staff at the Thanksgiving food drive on Tuesday being friendly toward one another.
Staff at the Thanksgiving food drive on Tuesday being friendly toward one another. Photo credit: Fullerton College Facebook Page

The Thanksgiving spirit was alive at the event, with around 30 volunteers working at a quick pace to keep up with all the cars. All were more than happy to spend some time to ensure that each student who attended would be well-fed for the Thanksgiving week.

According to Timmermans, the Healthy Hornet Drive-Thru, as well as this year’s 51 Thanksgiving Food Drive event, are only made possible because so many of the school’s staff have shown support, along with the programs that have partnered to provide meals for students.

Teamwork served its purpose this year for the Thanksgiving season, and providing meals to the students who are in need of extra assistance kept the spirit of gratitude alive at Fullerton College on Tuesday.