Spicing Up Service in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — It’s the season of giving and the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences celebrated throughout all of November! CALS had several opportunities throughout the year to give to others in need, but November focused on packaging meals and a student-led spice drive to add a little flavor to the holidays.

On Nov. 18, CALS hosted its annual Day of Service, an event for students, faculty and staff to give back to the community. This year, CALS continued its partnership with Rise Against Hunger, an international hunger relief organization. After just five hours of students and faculty working together, nearly 26,000 meals had been packaged for those in need.

A student holds a red mug of rice, preparing to pour it into a yellow funnel in the center of the table. Other people around her are pouring in different dehydrated ingredients.
Students, faculty and staff packaged nearly 26,000 meals for those in need.

“Service is one of the core values of the college,” said CALS Dean Elaine Turner. “So, it’s important to us not only to organize activities and events for students to participate in, but also support service learning in classes and service activities hosted by student clubs and organizations.”

The CALS Day of Service allowed participants to team up in packaging meals with rice, vitamins, soy protein and dehydrated vegetables. Each meal was carefully packed, weighed, sealed and boxed for transport. This year, the packaged meals were sent to one of Rise Against Hunger’s partner organizations in Vietnam, Children of Vietnam.

While the CALS Day of Service is a great opportunity for students, faculty and staff to give their time, the CALS Leadership Institute—a selective, 17-month program to cultivate leadership capacity in undergraduate students—found ways to serve through donations. Each CALS Leadership Cohort is tasked with conducting a community service project.

This year’s cohort, Cohort 13, hosted a spice drive for UF’s Alan and Cathy Hitchcock Field and Fork Pantry. This event garnered more than 1,000 bottles of diverse spices including paprika, chili powder, cumin, turmeric and many others.

A group of students stands with buckets of spice on rolling carts in front of a food pantry.
Cohort 13 donated more than 250 pounds of spice to the Alan and Cathy Hitchcock Field and Fork Pantry.

“When we were talking to the pantry about the best way to assist the international students who utilize their services, the spice drive seemed like the perfect way to create an inclusive place where all feel welcome and like they belong,” said Tylre Potter, a member of the CALS LI Cohort 13 and agricultural education and communication senior.

With a goal to help establish the pantry’s first-ever culturally inclusive spice rack, the cohort garnered more than double their initial goal of 100 pounds of spices. At the final tally, more than 250 pounds of spices were donated.

“I’m proud of this cohort for developing a service project that not only helped the campus community, but also engaged fellow students, faculty, staff and alumni,” said Natalie Coers, agricultural education and communication lecturer and CALS LI program director. “Both of these projects help our students develop the mindset that service is a lifelong pursuit.”


The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) administers the degree programs of the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS). The mission of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences is to deliver unsurpassed educational programs that prepare students to address the world’s critical challenges related to agriculture, food systems, human wellbeing, natural resources and sustainable communities. The college has received more total (national and regional combined) USDA teaching awards than any other institution.

cals.ufl.edu  |  @UFCALS


Posted: December 13, 2022

Category: UF/IFAS Teaching,
Tags: Involvement, Service, Student Organization

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