For college students in the middle of the United States, the serious issues of hunger and poverty can seem extremely far way, but I and my fellow students at Hastings College do our best to remind our campus and community of the importance and proximity of world hunger. It is easy to forget about the 15.8 percent of people in our local community who live below the poverty line and who go to bed hungry as you enter the dining hall. It is even easier to forget about people half-way across the world that may eat less in a day than the average student wastes at the end of a meal. We try our best to remind each person on our campus about the neighbor who is hungry and the stranger who would be appalled at their waste; to inspire them not just to remember, but to take action in the fight to end global hunger.
Our work is always two-fold: what are we doing locally and what are we doing globally.
Locally we rally, educate, and serve. Two student groups at Hastings exemplify service to fight hunger in the community around us. First is the student group Food 4 Thought that runs, in conjunction with a community partner, a back pack program for students on free and reduced lunch in the local school system. The students help raise nearly all the $25,000 it takes to finance the program for a year, and they also serve as the core volunteer force in bringing the meals to the schools. They deliver these meals to the schools serving 76 families for the entire year, and the group does its best to expand services to more families whenever it can by partnering with student organizations to accomplish this serve the community.
The second group, Students Against Hunger and Homelessness, organizes a week each year to promote awareness and to get as many students involved in the fight to end world hunger as possible. Over 30 percent of our student body participated in one or more of the events. This year, our group focused on local education by organizing a community panel on hunger and homelessness issues and by screening the film, “A Place at the Table.” These events were paired with hands on work. Over 100 students worked together to prepare 2,500 meals for community members in need, and twenty-seven students prepared seven meals for our local homeless shelter, Crossroads Mission. While the work of these groups, with the support of the campus as a whole, is commendable it barely puts a dent in the hunger in our local community.
Hastings College students also work to address hunger on a more global scale with the local affiliate of Kids Against Hunger (KAH). Many student groups, classes, staff and faculty donate their time to pack meals throughout the year to be sent abroad, most often to Haiti. As part of their week of awareness and action, the Students Against Hunger and Homelessness group brings a meal packing event to campus. This year 238 students packed over 60,000 meals to be sent to the Philippines after the typhoon. In years past, the group has also centered the educational piece of the weak on global hunger with events such as the Oxfam Hunger Banquet and the Church World Vision Poverty Meal. These events dramatize the distribution of food worldwide and help to show our students that luck is what allows them to live in the “bread basket of the world” while others live on less than a dollar a day.
Even though our service is good for immediate aid in the fight against hunger; we hope that our unyielding dedication to keep this topic relevant to our peers will bear the most fruit. As they graduate and go on to live their lives we hope that they remember that local and global hunger are pressing issues, and that they continue to take action against it.
Dae Hemphill | Hastings College ’14