Katie Rockford ’24 first heard about the Harvest, a popular student-powered food-salvage program on campus aimed at tackling local food insecurity issues, from upperclass students during the pandemic.
Katie Rockford '24
Katie Rockford '24. Photo: Hannah Osinoff ’23

Passionate about environmental and social justice issues herself, Rockford wanted to bring the program back following its necessary COVID-19 hiatus, but knew she’d need a lot of help to make it happen.

Throughout the fall 2022 semester, hundreds of members of the Hamilton community jumped at the chance to take part. Five varsity sports teams, three special-interest floors, two sororities, and 70 individuals harvested 155 meals and 5,563 pounds of food for the Rescue Mission and Hope House, both located in Utica.

“There are so many groups and individuals on campus that have gotten involved in our program,” Rockford said. “A lot of people want to help and they’ve made a big difference.”

With support from Bon Appétit and Facilities Management staff, Rockford and her Harvest co-managers, Sarah Ahrens '24 and Anna Yankee '25, spend several hours a week organizing shifts and volunteer outreach efforts. Following lunch and dinner on most weekdays, roughly 10 to 12 student volunteers – many who harvest multiple times throughout the semester – collect leftover food from the hot lines at Commons and McEwen Dining Halls and prepare it to be stored in the Bundy Café freezers. Rescue Mission and Hope House personnel pick up the food the following day.

Rockford and others have visited both venues to see their facilities as well as learn what foods work best for them and those they feed. They’ve also served the food and met those who enjoy it.

“It’s been eye-opening,” Rockford said. “We’ve had the chance to talk with the people and see how much the food really does matter to people and how much they really do need it.”

Because Hamilton [Gives Back]

The campaign supports the College's mission to prepare students for lives of meaning, purpose, and active citizenship. Just one of the many ways this happens is by providing extensive opportunities for leadership and service.

The Harvest, which will continue its work in the spring semester, is one of many ways that Hamilton students have dedicated time to help a variety of local organizations. Check out this sampling of how other groups have made an impact.

  • In November, members of Hamilton’s Brothers Organization spent a weekend leaf raking to fundraise for A Better Chance (ABC) Program, Clinton, and the Boys and Girls Club of Utica, amassing nearly $1,000 in contributions. Leaf raking fundraisers have become a fall tradition for the organization, adding to a history of volunteering and outreach for the region.
  • HAVOC (Hamilton Association for Volunteering Outreach and Charity) sponsored its annual mitten tree. Students picked a mitten with a gift request from a child and fulfilled the request. Children from the Johnson Park Center & Upstate Cerebral Palsy received gifts.

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