Aztecs Rock Hunger 2021

The annual Aztecs Rock Hunger food drive kicked off Monday at the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union, a San Diego State University spokeswoman said.

The campaign to fight food and nutrition insecurity will run through Nov. 14, with a theme of “Welcome Back by Giving Back,” according to a San Diego State (SDSU) news release.

The campaign’s organizers hope to combat food and nutrition insecurity in the greater San Diego community, officials said. SDSU’s Associated Students (A.S.) will lead the university-wide effort, in partnership with the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank.

Austin Barber, A.S. vice president of financial affairs, said food insecurity and nutrition insecurity are multifaceted problems, “and we want to provide as much support as possible in combating these issues.”

“Throughout Aztecs Rock Hunger, I want to promote a culture of serving and giving back to our SDSU and San Diego community,” Barber added.

Barber said “Welcome Back by Giving Back” refocuses on the San Diego region.

“This campaign is super special because it’s always been a community-based effort that directly touches our local population,” Barber said.

Organizers said the campaign comes at a crucial time. According to SDSU, before the COVID-19 pandemic, the food bank served 350,000 visitors monthly — that number has now nearly doubled to 600,000 per month.

According to the food bank, food insecurity is when a person has little-to-no food available at home and often doesn’t know how he or she will get their next meal.

Nutrition insecurity describes not having the physical or economic access to sufficient, safe, nutritious and culturally acceptable food to meet daily dietary needs.

Casey Castillo, food bank interim CEO, said SDSU “has been a steadfast community partner of the San Diego Food Bank’s for well over a decade.”

“What started out as a campaign in 2009 to help raise vital funds and food for families struggling to make ends meet throughout the county has grown and developed into an impactful collaboration to also provide emergency access to nutritious food for students,” Castillo added. “We are excited for this year’s Aztecs Rock Hunger food drive campaign and can’t wait to see how everyone comes together to break records with the ultimate goal of feeding hope in the community.”

A $1 donation to the campaign equals six pounds of food, according to SDSU, with a portion of the amount raised going towards the A.S. Food Pantry, a free service for all SDSU students facing food insecurity. The food pantry is open three days a week and has distributed nearly 400,000 pounds of food since 2016, according to SDSU.

Also, 20% of the monetary donations will go to the SDSU Economic Crisis Response Team (ECRT), which supports students experiencing immediate food, housing or unforeseen financial crises.

Donations to Aztec Rock Hunger can be done via; through Venmo @ARH2021, at all Starbucks and markets on campus; at select athletics games, including the Nov. 13 Homecoming football game; and by dropping off non-perishable food items at any of the red bins on campus. Local businesses in the College Area neighborhood will also accept donations.

There will also be special events to increase participation, including the Aztecs Rock Hunger 5K, happening Nov. 8-13 virtually, with the in-person 5K race on Nov. 13.

More information is available at this Instagram account: @aztecsrockhunger.

City News Service contributed to this article.