Sophomore Benjamin Whitehead tells senior Andrew Christ how he can give back to the San Antonio community by donating to the Kayla Mire Food Drive.

This year marks the fifth annual Kayla Mire Food Drive, which is part of the Dean of Students Half Marathon Challenge. David Tuttle, dean of students and associate vice president for student affairs,  oversees the two events each year. In the first four years of the program, the drive has raised 30,000 cans of food or the equivalent in donations. The theme for this year’s food drive, which collects donations for the San Antonio Food Bank, is “Turn Miles into Bites.” This new take on the event came from first year Dima Alhourani.

“I was approached by one of the runners [in the half marathon] during New Student Orientation. Dima had done a program at her school called ‘Turn It Into Bites.’ She wanted to adopt that campaign here and used ‘Turn Miles Into Bites,’” Tuttle said.

Alhourani initially came up with the concept at her high school in Jordan, and the general idea for the campaign is that the “it” can be replaced with anything that can be given a value.

“At my previous school, we launched a ‘Turn SATs Into Bites’ campaign to raise money for those in need in Jordan. The scholastic aptitude test that all high school students are required to take served as a pricey symbol of our future, while, in reality, we know that many people are trapped in the present because of their poor conditions,” said Alhourani, an international studies major.

In the “Turn SATs Into Bites” program Alhourani launched at her high school, students donated either the full price or a fraction of the fee associated with taking the SAT, and “the money was turned into ‘Bites’ because it was spent on food for those in need,” Alhourani said.

The drive originated at Trinity because running groups often run for charity, according to Tuttle.

“I settled on the San Antonio Food Bank in the first year at the suggestion of a staff member. It is perfect for students; it’s not another big financial commitment, it doesn’t require much time or energy and it is meaningful to what we do,” Tuttle said.

The philanthropy is also closely linked to the Dean of Students’ Half Marathon Challenge in that, through training, the runners get an idea of where the donations go.

“I like to use our training runs to show the disparity in neighborhoods around campus between haves and have-nots. I emphasize that right on our routes there are many in need — and the food drive is a way to help. On one run, we go past Haven for Hope, which always opens our eyes to needs in the community,” Tuttle said.

The campaign works to “raise awareness about the issue of hunger and specifically about hunger that is present around the street corners of San Antonio,” Alhourani said.

Annie Andrews, first year and first-time participant in a half marathon, is excited about the idea that her participation is helping others.

“I worked at the table in Coates last week, and the San Antonio Food Bank is a great organization that helps feed so many families and children, and I am glad that I can help in some way. The food drive has actually made me more involved with the Half Marathon Challenge, and now I’m doing more than running a couple of miles and learning about San Antonio as a city,” Andrews said.

Another central aspect of the food drive is the motivation provided by the memory of Kayla Mire, a Trinity graduate who passed away the summer after she graduated in 2010 in a one-car accident.

“Kayla was a wonderful young woman who was working her way back from psychological issues. She was a strong advocate for the homeless. She serves as a reminder to me that homelessness isn’t a choice, but is usually tied to other afflictions or addictions. I named the food drive after her with her family’s permission,” Tuttle said.

Tuttle asks that students consider donating 13 food items or $13 in TigerBucks because the runners will run 13 miles in the half marathon this Sunday, Nov. 11. Volunteers will be in Coates through Friday to collect Tiger Bucks, but members of the Trinity community can donate food items through Tuesday, Nov. 13.