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Foodbank CEO to student organizations: collaborate

Kyle Knox / Lantern reporter

Leaders of more than 100 Ohio State student organizations heard about the value of collaborative efforts when Mid-Ohio Foodbank CEO and President Matt Habash spoke at the Student Organizational Summit at the Ohio Union Saturday.

Members of Ohio Staters Inc., the Student-Alumni Council, Ohio Union Activities Board and Undergraduate Student Government organized the summit in the Great Hall Meeting Room, which included breakout sessions on collaboration between student organizations, leadership and engaging membership for about 300 people in attendance.

For USG Student Life Committee Director Bryan Ashton, a third-year in accounting and an organizer, the goal of the summit was to show student organizations the greater potential in collaboration.

“With 1,000 student organizations, there can be overlap in terms of what organizations are doing. Hopefully having two or three organizations working together creates a stronger product,” Ashton said.

Habash, an OSU graduate who has served on Columbus City Council, discussed the value of working with other organizations to accomplish goals. He related the “one university” concept to the student organizations’ need for collaboration.

“As you think back to President (E. Gordon) Gee trying to build on a ‘one university,’ what better way to do it than get the leaders of the student organizations thinking the same way,” Habash said.

The Mid-Ohio Foodbank is focused on sustainable operations. Habash described the organization’s new facility in Grove City, a $16 million LEED-certified building designed for recycling and green operations. LEED is a certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

“One of the things we really tried to do with the conference this year was show the application of student organization experiences in the real world,” Ashton said. “I think that is something that he tied in very, very well, the whole idea of collaborating and how that worked in city government and also with the Mid-Ohio Foodbank.”

Liesl Bittner, a first-year in business and member of OUAB Special Events Committee, said the lessons Habash brought in could be applied to organizations on campus.

“There are so many organizations, but a lot of us have similar goals and we don’t even realize it, but when we get together, we can save time; we can save money,” Bittner said. “The outcome is so much more efficient when we work together.”

With their efforts in food distribution, the Mid-Ohio Foodbank is collaborating with other organizations to educate the public on healthy living.

“It’s one thing to tell people to eat well and to go out and walk and get exercise,” Habash said. “If you live in a community that doesn’t have sidewalks and isn’t safe, exercise is a little problem.”

Habash said his philosophy regarding meetings stemmed from training on hosting. Cell phones and laptops often distract attendees, he said. In his view, those distracted individuals weren’t really in the meeting at all.

Vice president of the Morrill Tower Activities Board Derek Erskine, a first-year in political science, said he agreed with Habash’s views.

“In today’s age, it’s about technology. At one point, you just have to step back and put that stuff aside,” Erskine said. “Its more important if you’re able to listen than if you’re able to speak.”

Habash said his son Justin, an Army captain, was a source of inspiration.

“Talk about leadership; it’s one thing to sit here and talk about doing it from an organization, it’s another thing to talk about it when they’re shooting at you and bombing you,” Habash said. “I’ve learned more from him in talking to him about what true leadership means under fire literally than I have in any of my work.”


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