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FJIL puts on food drive, collects 119 pounds for needy

By Jared Misner
Student writer

David Byron (2L) struggled to find room for his textbooks in the backseat of his car with the 119 pounds of canned Bush's baked beans, Campbell's chicken and rice and Nutella overflowing onto the floorboards.

Making room between the plastic Publix bags begging to tear from the weight of canned black beans and peanut butter, Byron's car was nearly full with the fruits (and beans) of his labor that began in late August.

As editor-at-large of the Florida Journal of International Law, Byron was in charge of bringing the donated food collected as part of the journal's food drive to Gainesville Community Ministry Nov. 16.

And the 119 pounds of collected food Byron brought in were gone the next day.

The recession has hit Gainesville hard, and families are still struggling to survive.

"We've had more people these past few years than we've ever had before because of the recession," Jean Gough, Gainesville Community Ministry's director of services, said. "The food has a way of disappearing very quickly."

Gainesville Community Ministry, a local organization charged with providing food, clothing and health services to Gainesville's homeless and low-income families, provided more than 21,000 people with food last year, Gough said. She estimated that number will certainly be higher this year.

For an international journal, such a local charity might seem like an odd choice for donations, but for Byron, it's just right.

"It seems kind of contradictory, but Gainesville was hit by the recession just like everywhere else, and there's a lot of people who need support right here."

Gough estimated Gainesville Community Ministry feeds about 30 to 40 low-income and homeless families every day, which means the Florida Journal of International Law's philanthropic food donation was gone much before Thanksgiving. And as the holiday season approaches, Gough is quick to note the need is great for food donations during this time of the year.

"It's a busy time of the year, but it's important to do what we can," Byron said.

For those who wish to donate food or money to Gainesville Community Ministry, please contact Gough at jean@gcmsteps.org. Alternatively, donations may be made at Gainesville Community Ministry's physical address at 238 SW 4th St.