Student community service to fight against hunger

T'Nerra Butler, Multicultural Editor

Larissa Kmetz, a junior sociology major, and Gretchen Butterfield, a sophomore biological sciences major, work with the Hunger action team and hand out plates for students to  decorate to send to the Wesley Foundation Food Pantry every Thursday of November in Bridge Lounge of the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union. With each plate decorated a dollar is donated to the food pantry.
Submitted Photo
Larissa Kmetz, a junior sociology major, and Gretchen Butterfield, a sophomore biological sciences major, work with the Hunger action team and hand out plates for students to decorate to send to the Wesley Foundation Food Pantry every Thursday of November in Bridge Lounge of the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union. With each plate decorated a dollar is donated to the food pantry.

Students can participate in weekly events geared toward battling hunger during the month of November.

The student community service office will be hosting these events until Thanksgiving break, with specific days focusing on how to fight hunger issues in surrounding areas.

The events include “Cookies for a Cause,” “Hot Dog Stand,” “Paper Plate Advocacy” and other programs to bring awareness to hunger.

“Cookies for a Cause” will at 10 a.m. this Tuesday and on Nov. 17th across campus.

The “Hot Dog Stand” will be at 11 a.m. this Wednesday and on Nov. 18 in the South Quad.

_MG_7790Michael Gillespie, a professor of sociology and anthropology, said one thing people should be aware of is food insecurity, which is not hunger but the risk that a person does not know where his or her next meal is coming from.

Gillespie said the idea is to have an advocacy and educational component to these programs.

He said many see the problem of hunger among Eastern’s faculty and staff.

“We have people who work here who get pay checks who still draw on things like food stamps or visit food panties once a month,” Gillespie said. “ They sometimes go a couple times a month just to help make ends meet.”

Many are not aware of some the staff who are working on campus not making enough to put together a meal, Gillespie said.

He said the reason they decided to go with November was because of the holidays.

Gillespie said it is also a time when families begin to struggle financially.

A group inside the student community services office called the Hunger Action Team will be at the Bridge Lounge in Martin Luther King Jr. University Union giving out plates.

People can decorate the plates and every plate becomes a $1 donation to the food pantry.

“Paper Plate Advocacy” will be at 10 a.m. this Thursday and on Nov. 19.

Profits will go toward the food pantry, which has collaborated with the Wesley Foundation.

The plates carry messages or facts and will be displayed across campus.

The food pantry is offered to anyone on campus with a Panther Card.

The food pantry is open the second Wednesday of every month.

People can go in and get food to stock their dorms or their homes if they stay off campus.

“Wherever our students come from, they come here and have at it with the community to maintain that community through service,” Gillespie said.

Gillespie said not many people are digging into the hunger situation surrounding Coles County.

“I dug and found out the poverty levels in this county is the highest in the region including places like Champaign County,” Gillespie said. “We realized that this was something that the students and other volunteers could get involved in.”

Kelsi Grubisich, a graduate assistant in student affairs, said the Hunger Action Team has a plan of raising $1,500 in the month of November.

“Volunteering saves all the agencies that we work with $20 a hour that they would have to pay an employee,” Grubisich said. “That gives an insight as to what volunteering really is.”

Larissa Kmetz, a junior sociology major, said many people do not know what is going on when it comes to the hunger situation and these events heighten people’s senses and opens their eyes.

“You can’t fix the whole world, but you can make your own school or your own community better and this is the way to do it,” Kmetz said.

Gillespie said they plan to revisit the hunger situation in the spring semester and come up with a poverty simulation.

He said they plan to have a poverty simulation for a couple hours to experience what it is like to be on welfare or get food stamps.

According to Gillespie’s research, 42.5 percent of individuals in the total population, 31.5 percent of all families and 46. 5 percent of families suffer from food insecurity.

“Hopefully people will see this and do as I say, which is get there boots on the ground and get dirty to help fight the of hunger in this area,” Gillespie said.

 

T’Nerra Butler can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]