A group of University of Rhode Island students from the College of Health Sciences worked together to deliver Thanksgiving food baskets to 140 families in low-income subsidized housing in Providence, Rhode Island.

Thanks to a variety of members from Nutrition Club, Interfraternity Council and volunteers, the group was able to bring a wide range of canned and fresh foods to families in Maplewood Terrace housing development.

One of the difficulties of low income housing communities is that they tend to also be food insecure. Families not only have a hard time putting food on the table, but also finding nutritious food.

“At URI we are really privileged in ways we don’t realize and it’s easy for us to be able to go and have a food choice but that isn’t the case for many families,” Jessie Boukarim, a coordinator for the event said. “It’s a reality that’s not even 30 mins away in our capital city where families are suffering with this on a daily basis.”

The group was coordinated by two students, Boukarim and Beth Nowak, vice president of Nutrition Club. The idea originated with Boukarim who had worked in Maplewood Terrace. Through taking with Nowak about these families in this community, Nowak was inspired to find a way to give back to the families. The two decided to donate Thanksgiving baskets, just in time for the holiday. They dispersed flyers, in both English and Spanish to every family in the community and about 140 families signed up.

“We had tremendous support from the department, which is a large reason to why this came together,” Boukarim said. “Originally we didn’t think that we would be able to serve as many families as we had did.”

The two partnered with Nutrition Club and the Interfraternity Council to start a food donation to make Thanksgiving baskets, just in time for the holiday. Interfraternity Council through Philanthropy Week helped gather canned goods, coffee and hot chocolate, all donated by individual students. Nutrition Club, along with help from the Nutrition Department, helped by donating kitchens to make fresh pumpkin bread for all the baskets. East Farm donated fresh butternut squash and fresh apples from Belmont Market in Wakefield. In addition, URI Dining Services offered a truck to be able to transport all of the baskets. The group gave each of the families a thank you letter written in both English and Spanish wishing them a warm holiday

“Even though what we did was just kind of only a one-day thing I think it means a lot of people knowing someone else cares,” said Boukarim.