“We have also branched out to hygiene products, as well as school supplies and clothing items. We are in the process of growing to fill even more needs for students,” Grant Oxford, vice president of the Student Government Association, said. Oxford oversees the operation with the occasional help of community volunteers and campus fraternities.
Although the organization is relatively small, it hopes to make a big difference in the lives of those with serious concerns.
“We have partnered with student organizations to coordinate donation drives. We also partnered with a local church, who donated time, supplies and a large monetary sum. We do a drive at the end of the semester to donate Ace Bucks and supplies to continue to keep Aces Haven full.” The Ace Bucks are mostly donated directly by UE students who would otherwise let them go to waste. “These Ace Bucks can be used by approved students to utilize in Café Court so they are able to have a meal,” Oxford said.
The supplies Aces Haven offers and stocks for students is used regularly, but even if it only makes a difference in one individual’s life, the organization is accomplishing a great deed. “I believe that [Aces Haven] has done a lot of good to our campus community and it demonstrates the spirit of the Aces family,” Soldatou said.
Outside the university, multiple organizations in the Evansville area have taken initiative to help support individuals and families who deal with food shortages regularly. The Tri-State Food Bank has created a network of charities and food drives to help distribute large amounts of nutritious food to families facing food insecurity and individuals who need it most.
“It’s really incredible what they are able to do there. The people are friendly, and they really want to make a difference in other people’s lives,” Caleb Stevenson, who volunteered regularly at the Tri-State Food Bank in 2020, said. The impact organizations like the Tri-State Food Bank can make is significant and should not be overlooked.
“If you volunteer there, you’ll begin to understand how much the organization does for those in need. Seeing the warehouse and all the inventory is shocking. They distribute an incredible amount of produce,” Stevenson said.
People are being sent home from work, and the number of food insecure families is rising. Nonetheless, Tri-State Food Bank is distributing more food than ever, and continuing to support those in need.
Food insecurity is a problem that haunts millions of people around the world and many here in the Evansville community. In the United States, roughly 10.5% of households reported some level of food insecurity in 2019. Then COVID-19 hit, and that number rose to 27.5% by the summer of 2020. The University of Evansville’s Aces Haven is making a valiant effort to lower the number of students on our campus who deal with this problem. Local organizations such as Tri-State Food Bank, Urban Seeds, Feed Evansville and others are doing the same for the entire community. It is a problem that may never go away. However, people can and are making a difference in the lives of those who deal with food insecurity.