Gettin’ Squashy: VCSU Students Picking Squash for a Cause

Valley City State University freshmen harvest 80,000 pounds of squash to donate to the Great Plains Food Bank for the sixth annual squash harvest in Valley City.

“I can tell my parents I picked squash today. They’ll be like what? Yeah I picked squash today,” said Caleb Velez, a freshman from Fairbanks, Alaska.

Some squash still had to picked, but many were being thrown in the air by assembly lines of college freshmen.

At the end of the day, the students harvested 80,000 pounds of squash that will be distributed across the state.

“There is a ‘don’t throw the squash clause’ that’s never followed,” said Stephanie Roelfsema, the Director of Learning to Live Program at VCSU.

The tradition started six years ago when Dan Faust heard the Great Plains Food Bank was asking growers to plant extra seeds to harvest and donate.

“Hey this is the organization I want to work with. This is it!” said Faust.

Now he donates almost his entire harvest.

This year he’s already donated over 100,000 pounds of corn.

“This has been a real God send. We wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t for being able to work with the university in valley city. It has been only positive,” Faust explained.

One in nine people in North Dakota don’t know when their next meal is.

That’s why any donation helps.

“If you’re in a community and you’re wanting to know how to help maybe go out and find a farmer that you know and say can I help pick some squash or can I help do this, do you have any extra?” said Nancy Carriveau of the Great Plains Food Bank. “A lot of farmers might also leave potatoes or onions back in the field and if they’re able to go out an pick some of that, that would be great and we would take any donations.”

It’s a fulfilling day for all and gives students who come from out of state a way to learn new cultures while giving back locally.

“We’re not just kids coming from other places for school. We’re here to help with everybody and be a part of the community.” said Caleb.