Newhouse students in Los Angeles give back to the community

Students studying with the Syracuse University Los Angeles semester (SULA) program spent their Saturday giving back to the LA community.

SULA students were invited to volunteer with the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, where they packaged food and produce for those in need in Los Angeles County.

Sara Shaygan sorts five-pound bags of apples at the LA Food Bank.

Sara Shaygan, a drama major in the College of Visual and Performing Arts, helped sort and collect five-pound bags of apples. Shaygan says she wanted to give back to the LA community to ensure people have consistent access to nutritious meals.

“Especially in the wake of the pandemic, it feels more important than ever to give back and take care of our community,” Shaygan says.

After the apples were sorted and put into bags, they were loaded onto conveyor belts and boxed up for travel and distribution. Wyatt Dennis, a junior studying television, radio and film at Newhouse, was one of the boxing volunteers.

Wyatt Dennis packs apples into boxes for distribution in Los Angeles County.

“It was actually a lot more fun than it sounds,” Dennis laughs.

Dennis says he felt an obligation to give back to the local community, where many are experiencing poverty and housing insecurity. He hopes to continue making a difference even after his time with SULA.

“It felt really good to give back and I hope it is something I can continue to do in the future, especially if I end up moving out here permanently after graduation,” Dennis says.

SULA program director Robin Howard says service is one of the pillars of the program; students have volunteered with the food bank for several years. It is just as important as participating in class and working at an internship, she says.

“Volunteerism is an integral part of the SULA semester experience. Doing some kind of social good for the Los Angeles community through an act of selfless giving is not only good for the soul but provides yet another path for our students’ personal growth,” Howard says.

SULA was just one of the organizations volunteering with the food bank. Local college clubs and community groups were also in attendance.

“Seeing all the people that turned out to help and knowing that there are organizations like the LA Food Bank gives me hope for a brighter future,” Shaygan says.

The LA Regional Food Bank serves over 800,000 people every month. According to the food bank, one in five people in Los Angeles County experiences food insecurity.

Only approximately 10% of the food goes to people experiencing housing insecurity. The majority of the food goes to low-income families and individuals who struggle to make ends meet, the food bank says.

Since 1973, the food bank claims to have distributed more than 1.83 billion pounds of food.

If you’d like to support the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, you can donate online.

Katie Lane is a senior in the broadcast and digital journalism program at the Newhouse School. She is participating in the SULA program this semester.