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'I get to do this': Lupe Izzo continues her 25-year tenure as Food Drive Chair

February 6, 2020
Lupe Izzo instructs psychology junior Taylor Bean on volunteering during the MSU Rebounders Club Annual Food Drive on Jan. 29, 2017 at Breslin Center. Lupe Izzo has planned this event in coordination with the MSU Student Food Bank for 23 years and Taylor Bean is an employee of the food bank. The proceeds and food raised from the fundraiser will be split evenly between the MSU Student Food Bank and Greater Lansing Food Bank.
Lupe Izzo instructs psychology junior Taylor Bean on volunteering during the MSU Rebounders Club Annual Food Drive on Jan. 29, 2017 at Breslin Center. Lupe Izzo has planned this event in coordination with the MSU Student Food Bank for 23 years and Taylor Bean is an employee of the food bank. The proceeds and food raised from the fundraiser will be split evenly between the MSU Student Food Bank and Greater Lansing Food Bank. —
Photo by Chloe Grigsby | and Chloe Grigsby The State News

Lupe Izzo has chaired the food drive at the Breslin Center at Michigan State for 25 years, with the 25th annual drive taking place on Jan. 17 ahead of MSU’s 67-55 home win over Wisconsin.

“When I married (coach) Tom (Izzo) ... I started working with the food drive and worked on doing a food drive at Breslin,” Izzo said. 

She said people didn’t take it seriously at first. 

“They didn’t think that it was a problem or didn’t really quite understand the issue of hunger,” Izzo said. “Mostly in the last five, six years, people have really come around knowing that it is an issue. It is a problem that faces not only our community, but America.”

As the food drive has grown over the span of a quarter-century, Izzo recalls her father’s relationship with former Lansing Mayor David Hollister — who held the position from 1993-2003 — as a catalyst for the drive’s genesis.

“Because my father was a community person, I was brought up in a house that always helped people, and it was all about community,” Izzo said. “Before I knew about celebrities and sports people, I knew about these people. And to me, these people were my heroes. … They saw needs, and they met them. … I knew the founders, and I wanted to continue to do the good work that they had started.”

While describing the food drive’s objective, Izzo noted its aim to supplement the Greater Lansing Food Bank, where she holds a board position. Since the Lansing bank maintains more than 140 pantries in the area, the effort continues to grow.

“This year, they’re going to be feeding over a 100,000 people in our community,” Izzo said. “Maybe people had to choose between paying a bill or getting medication. Now, because of compassionate people in our community, there’s a place for them to go for food and still be able to afford their medication or pay their heat bill.”

When asked about the reasons behind her 25-year effort, Izzo said she was grateful to have been able to pursue it in the first place

“I just take it as, I’m able to do this,” Izzo said. “I can do this. I get to do this. I can choose not to, but I do get a chance to.”

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