San José State University students enrolled in a community nutrition class put their classroom knowledge to the test by planning a fundraiser to benefit a local soup kitchen.
On April 24, more than 100 people attended a fundraiser for Martha’s Kitchen, a community soup kitchen near downtown San Jose, coordinated by students in the College of Applied Sciences and Arts’ Nutrition, Food Science and Packaging department.
The students who are enrolled in Marjorie Freedman’s Community Nutrition class organized the fundraiser, called “Empty Bowls” as part of a service learning requirement for the class. Organizers included Anna Dong, Annie Su, Tracey Nguyen, Jovanna Ponco and Vi Tran. The students raised more than $1,700 for Martha’s Kitchen.
Since 1981, Martha’s Kitchen has had the mission to “feed the hungry with dignity, no questions asked, no judgment made.” The organization has served more than 2.75 million meals since it opened. The SJSU Nutrition students decided to join forces with Edita Cruz, the executive director, to raise money for the Kitchen’s essential nutrition services.
The students coordinated all aspects of the dinner fundraiser, from soliciting donations for raffle prizes, menu planning, ticket sales and marketing the event. Attendees were entertained by the SJSU Mambo Club, King Library Rockers and the SJSU Polynesian Club. Some of the donations included a signed puck from the San Jose Sharks hockey team and a signed picture from Steve Blake, of the Golden State Warriors basketball team.
The week before the event, the students had raised $900 but only had 10 people signed up to attend the event. They worked with some Nutrition professors to offer attendance at the event as an extra-credit activity or to use the time for a professional meeting. Their last-minute marketing efforts paid off when more than 100 people showed up for the fundraiser.
The students learned how to navigate event planning, solicit donations and learn about marketing while working effectively as a team.
Student Jovanna Ponco said in a press release, “If we had been missing just one team member, the event would not have gone as smoothly and as successfully as it did. As seniors in our last semester of the Dietetics program at San Jose State, we will graduate not only with the skills and experience that we gained through this event, but the bonds of friendship that we strengthened as well.”
The students also thanked Freedman and Cruz for their support in coordinating the fundraiser.