The Charger Blog

University of New Haven Senior Says Alternative Spring Break Program was ‘Empowering’

Gio Roper ’19, a psychology major, was one of more than 30 students who participated in the University of New Haven’s Alternative Spring Break program, which enabled students to spend their break serving the local community while building leadership and teambuilding skills.

March 29, 2019

By Gio Roper ’19

Image of Gio Roper ’19
Gio Roper ’19 (right) worked with Haven’s Harvest over spring break as part of the University’s Alternative Spring Break program.

This year, I had the opportunity to participate in the Alternative Spring Break program, which program brings together students from the University who have an interest in serving the community. Students are placed in groups at various organizations throughout the local community, where they spend the week of Spring Break volunteering.

Image of Gio Roper ’19
Gio Roper ’19

I spent the week working with Haven’s Harvest, an organization that gathers excess food from local restaurants and delivers it directly to communities in need. Haven’s Harvest currently has 76 sites in the greater New Haven area that receive food donations. This food includes hot meals, produce, bread, and any other food that a business is willing to donate.

Haven’s Harvest has 148 amazing volunteers who help pick up the donations and deliver them directly to the receiving site. These sites include schools, day care centers, churches, and elderly housing apartments.

During the week, we had the opportunity to help with two donation deliveries. We delivered food to Junta for Progressive Action, an organization that offers a variety of services and support for Latinx and low-income families. We also delivered food to the Hope Academy, a special education school that does not have a food program and relies heavily on donations from Haven’s Harvest donors to feed students.

Throughout the week, my group and I met with some of the sites that receive food. We learned about the impact that Haven’s Harvest has had on the people within their communities. Many people rely on the donations to feed themselves and their families.

I was very surprised to learn about how common food insecurity is right here in the local community. Although this was hard to hear, I was very grateful that Haven’s Harvest helps to provide food for those experiencing food insecurity.

"My Alternative Spring Break experience made me feel more empowered to serve the community and to change the world."By Gio Roper ’19

After we spent time learning about what Haven’s Harvest has done throughout the community, we canvassed restaurants in West Haven, spreading the word about Haven’s Harvest and seeking potential new donors.

While canvassing, my group and I thought a great deal about all of the stories we heard about how Haven’s Harvest has helped so many people. We were more determined to find restaurants willing to become donors because we knew that the food would be going to a great cause, as opposed to going in a dumpster.

We were fortunate to find several restaurants that were interested in becoming donors. My time at Haven’s Harvest showed me the how important it is for communities to come together to support the community. It also taught me how important it is for communities to come together to help people in need. My Alternative Spring Break experience made me feel more empowered to serve the community and to change the world.