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OHIO Zanesville student social work club hosts food drive benefitting local organization

November 18, 2022

Ohio University Zanesville Social Work Student Association is sponsoring a canned food drive to directly benefit the Life Well Shelter and Free Store, located at 857 Putnam Ave. in Zanesville.

“We decided to do the canned food drive not only to provide food to the shelter, but also in hopes to give them food with different nutritional values than what they might usually have access to,” Mackenzie Dodd, social work major, said.

The canned food drive was developed by students in the Social Welfare course taught by Dr. Leah Vensil. Students in this course are engaged in service learning which includes hands-on service within the community. The Life Well was chosen for this class because of the agency’s long history of serving the community and Pastor Joy Wigal’s willingness to partner.  

“There is a great need for social workers and case managers in the Putnam area and beyond,” Wigal said. “This is a great opportunity for the social work students to get involved and gain ‘boots on the ground’ experiences. The Life Well is an ongoing resource for residents of Putnam and throughout the community. Not only do people come to us for clothes and household items, they come to us regularly for food, as well.”

Social Work Food Drive

Getting involved firsthand in this area of the community opens the discussion with students about how a person may come to experience food insecurity. This Social Welfare course examines the root causes of societal challenges, including lack of affordable housing, low wages, barriers that groups face, social service qualifications, life circumstances, and other barriers. Students identify inherent biases within society, bridge the gap, and learn to be an advocate for those they will serve in their future careers.

“Ohio University Zanesville’s social work program prepares students to tackle some very difficult challenges,”  Dr. Leah Vensil, associate professor of social work, said. “I have no doubt that our community is in good hands with these competent and passionate future social workers.”

Donations are life-changing for a fellow community member. According to Feeding America, as of 2020 approximately 12,000 Muskingum County residents suffered from food insecurity. In reality, many community members do not know where their next meal will come from. The OHIO Zanesville students are working to help mitigate food insecurity for the people who utilize the Life Well services. 

“Food donations will be a huge help within our community,” Wigal said. “It has been a pleasure to work with the students. They have lots of energy and creativity.”

Your donation will be life-changing for a fellow community member. The deadline for the food drive has been extended to November 30th . Donations can be dropped off in donation boxes throughout Elson Hall at Ohio University Zanesville.

Those interested in discovering more about the social work program or additional opportunities at Ohio University Zanesville, can connect with Dr. Leah Vensil.