Students on Hunger & Homelessness Week: “I thought about how lucky we are”

November 24, 2014 | Leave a Comment

Students on Hunger & Homelessness Week: “I thought about how lucky we are”

BUIES CREEK -- Campbell University’s Department of Social Work and Social Work Club concluded their Hunger and Homelessness Week Friday night with a showing of the film “The Soloist” following a week full of events designed to raise awareness about food insecurity and homelessness in the U.S.

Campbell students and Social Work Club officers Nicole Fitzgerald and Kelli Karl shared with what they learned from two of the week’s biggest events: the inaugural Box-A-Thon on the Academic Circle and the third annual Hunger Banquet.

“I thought about how lucky we are”

The Box-a-thon was a very eye opening event. We may not have stayed out all night, but just staying until 2 a.m. was enough to get the picture of a night in the shoes of a person without a place to stay. The thought of postponing the event was raised, and I mentioned that the homeless do not have that option. I thought Wednesday night was the perfect night for it.

Most of the people that came out stated that it was really cold and even with their boxes and blankets they still could not get warm. As I was out there, even though I was tired, I could not sleep because of the cold, which made me think that many people that are displaced may not get the sleep they need to function.

After packing up from the box-a-thon I thought about how lucky we are -- that we have the option to pack up and go to a warm house, dorm room or apartment.

As a senior graduating in May, I hope for next year that more people participate. Even if it is not for the entire night, two to three hours can open your eyes to how lucky we are to have a place to sleep with heat or air conditioning. -- Nicole Fitzgerald, president of the Social Work Club

“This brought it home to some people that it can happen to them”

This year was the Social Work Club's third annual Hunger Banquet, only we made it resemble the problem of hunger at home. We Americanized it and called it “What's for Dinner?”, and showed the participants what hunger really looks like. Many Americans do not have enough to eat or have the resources to provide balanced, healthy meals for their families. Hunger has a different image in America than what we are used to seeing. That is why it remains hidden. We wanted to address this issue and make students aware of it and how they can help.

We stuck with the idea of drawing a “lot in life” like the previous two years. This time, however, we made the lifestyles and meals similar to what it is like for Americans in that category. The lowest end of the economic spectrum -- roughly 20 percent of the population -- had a soup kitchen meal. The portions were small, and they had to make sure there was enough to go around. The next group was the 20 percent of Americans that qualify for SNAP (aka Food Stamps) but still do not have enough to feed their families. They received a small piece of chicken, some green beans, and a cookie. The next group represented 40 to 80 percent of Americans who work multiple jobs to make a living but still have nutrition deficits. They received two hamburgers, fries, and a soda, because most in that category rely on fast food for their meals. Finally, the top 20 percent of the economic spectrum received a five star meal, with balanced healthy portions and as many servings as they choose. I was lucky to draw that lot.

It was difficult to enjoy my meal and watch some of my friends either have a small bowl of soup or eat fast food. It was also hard to enjoy it because I know I am fortunate enough to have the meals I choose and do not worry about food insecurity, at least not now, while many people struggle to feed their families.

A key point we tried to illustrate to students is that this can be them. We read scenarios of people with college degrees and doing everything right, but still struggling to survive. I think this brought it home to some people that it can happen to them. I hope people left the event that night with a new attitude toward hunger. -- Kelli Karl, treasurer of the Social Work Club

Students who participated in the inaugural Box-a-Thon slept on the Academic Circle Wednesday night with only a box for shelter. 

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