San Diego’s Food and the City Philanthropy Project Digs In with Harvest CROPS

Woodbury’s Food and the City Philanthropy Project provided some San Diego students with the opportunity to donate the fruits of their labor to a local community in need
Left to right: Nayeli Millet (5th year), Daniela Holguin (4th year) and Jake Cattanach (5th year), along with a San Diego friend. Not pictured: Sean Baba and Kyle Zahn

For the fourth year running——and the second partnering with the Global Hunger Foundation——Woodbury’s Food and the City Philanthropy Project provided some San Diego students with the opportunity to donate the fruits of their labor to a local community in need.

According to Emily Bills, coordinator of the Urban Studies Program in the College of Liberal Arts, “our San Diego students found a marvelous organization to work with, Harvest CROPS (Community Residents Offering Produce Seasonally). I’m proud of this group of hard workers and smart philanthropists!”

“Many thanks to Woodbury University’s San Diego students for their hard volunteer work,” said Sergio D. Padilla, Founder, CEO and volunteer, at Harvest CROPS, “Together we picked about 425 lbs. of tangelos and oranges in El Cajon.” Harvest CROPS immediately delivered the fresh-picked fruit to a community of Somalia refugees living in East San Diego County.

The organization’s mission: to harvest residential fruit with volunteers, for the benefit of those less fortunate. Harvest CROPS serves San Diego County, thanks to the support and enthusiasm of volunteers and sponsors. Extending north to Vista and south to San Ysidro, Harvest CROPS responds to residents who want their fruit to be picked and donated.

As part of a philanthropy project in URBS 331 Food and the City that addresses what it means to be a thoughtful donor, students selected Harvest CROPS. The university has partnered with the Global Hunger Foundation, which provides $1,000–$2,000 for students in both Burbank and San Diego to give to an organization the students select in those communities.

To identify the recipient organization, San Diego students engaged in a semester-long vetting process in which they learned how to decipher 990s forms, calculate overhead expenditures, review boards of directors, and question the organizations’ special interests. Winnowing their options through an initial vote, they then visited the top choice to experience how the organization operates at ground level and pose additional questions. As part of that visit, students received both a tour of the facilities and a chance to roll up their sleeves and volunteer their time.

“The project’s volunteer component enables students to gain a deeper appreciation for organization’s operations on a day-to-day basis and the often difficult work done by its staff and volunteers,” Prof. Bills said. “By the time the grant is offered, Food and the City students feel both confident in their choice and also fulfilled by their connection to an organization that strives to decrease hunger insecurity.”

“This is a wonderful model, with students and businesses participating,” Padilla said. “We are so appreciative to our volunteers for making this harvest possible, feeding families and seniors on limited incomes.”

And, in an allusion to the calendar, he added, “we had nothing but good luck for Friday the 13th!”

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