Hunger Symposium to educate, raise awareness

Cassie Buchman, City Editor

Coles County Timeout will educate people and make them aware of poverty in the Coles County area by sponsoring a hunger symposium 1 p.m to 4 p.m April 10 in the Lumpkin Family Center for Health Education in the Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center.

Marcia Shambaugh, office manager for the student community service office, said the Coles County Time Out is a collaborative effort of non-profit organizations, schools and churches of Coles County.

“It is supported by the Lumpkin Family Foundation,” Shambaugh said. “They conduct programs that support people’s innovations and long lasting improvement in the environment, health, education and community access to the arts.

Sociology professor Michael Gillespie said the Coles County Time Out program was named so because it was an organization that allowed people to take time out of their day to learn about issues.

“People would take time out, like during their lunch break, thought the day, and do information sharing,” Gillespie said.

Gillespie said Time Out has worked on different issues including work on poverty that has run across the gamut.

Check in for the symposium is at 12:30 p.m. the day of the event. It includes workshops, panels and keynote speaker Jim Hires, the executive director of the Eastern Illinois Food Bank. He will discuss the issues of hunger in the Coles County Area.

Gillespie said he would also speak about what his organization does as a food bank to address these issues.

The panels include fighting with food, a discussion with local food pantry directors such as local youth directors and a presentation of census data and information about hunger in their community.

Later panels are “Growing the Answer”, a discussion with local community garden leaders, and “School and Hunger”, which is a discussion with local high school and college food pantry directors.

Gillespie is one of the people presenting at the symposium.

“The presentations is going to be on research I’ve done, and looks at levels of poverty, hunger, and food insecurity in the Coles County area,” Gillespie said. “The symposium is a way to get people more educated and more involved about issues in the area.”

A number of workshops will be available for attendees on how to work with youth and hunger, and to discuss how these issues pertain to the community.

Rachel Fisher, director of student community service, said it was an opportunity for anyone on Eastern’s campus or student community to get together and learn about situations in the community.

“They can learn reasons for, and how to fight, hunger,” Fisher said. “One reason we have it is to talk about community gardens, and other initiatives coming from the Eastern Illinois food bank.”

Those interested in attending can register by calling 217-581-3967. Seating is limited to 100 people.

“I know it’s a great opportunity to mobilize our selves to fight hunger,” Fisher said.

It has sponsored similar events on hunger before, mostly dealing with hunger on a county level.

The Symposium is Time Out’s final session of the season. Its season will resume in the fall after a summer break.

Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].