Hunger Action Month to raise awareness, funds

Kalyn Hayslett, Editor-in-Chief


Throughout the month of November, the Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteerism will educate, fundraise and assist citizens who suffer from food insecurity during its fifth annual Hunger Action Month.

Food insecurity is when an individual or family is one step away from not being able to identify how they will find their next meal.

Sociology professor Michael Gillespie said food insecurity is directly linked with the amount of money a person earns and is a problem that affects several Coles County citizens and families.

“About 42.2 percent of all individuals in Coles County are food insecure and 46.9 percent of families. That’s almost half in Coles County (that) are food insecure, while 23.9 percent of families with children under the age of 18 years old live in poverty,” Michael Gillespie said.

Having an unstable or low income is a contributor to food insecurity because individuals and families do not have the means to consistently purchase a sustainable amount of food.

“If you are poor in our country, you have no power,” Michael Gillespie said. “You need someone to help advocate for you, and there is not a lot of people who are willing to do that.”

Students can become advocates for those who suffer from food insecurity by educating themselves about the causes of it, breaking any negative stigmas associated with people needing assistance and being aware of the epidemic.

Hunger can be easily hidden, causing people to be unaware of the silent suffering of other citizens, Michael Gillespie said, which puts an even higher responsibility on us as human beings to genuinely extend a helping hand to those in need.

Throughout November, Fridays will be dedicated to sharing facts and statistics about food insecurity, poverty and hunger.

For every Wednesday and Thursday that school is in session, there will be a variety of fundraising activities including Coin Wars, Cookies for a Cause, Hunger Strike, popcorn and hot chocolate sales.

Students can purchase two cookies for $3 from noon to 2 p.m. this coming Wednesday during the Cookies for a Cause fundraiser.

The Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteerism will use social media to notify the campus about the specific locations for the cookie sales.

Donation jars will be placed around campus for Coin Wars, and the area that raises the most money by the end of the month will win a pizza party.

For the Hunger Strike, from noon to 2 p.m. Wednesday in the Library Quad, students can pie Eastern faculty members with a shaving cream pie for $1.

Hot chocolate by the cup will be sold for $1 Thursday Nov. 10 near Coleman Hall and popcorn will be sold for $1 from noon to 2 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 17 next to the Doudna Fine Arts Center.

Each fundraising activity is targeted to raise $100 each for The Wesley Foundation’s Food Pantry, The Charleston Food Pantry and Standing Stone Food Pantry.

Beth Gillespie, interim director of the Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteerism, said for every dollar that is donated the food pantry, workers can buy up to $10 worth of food because of the relationships they have developed with food retailers.

“Our goal is to essentially give them $100 but let them buy $1,000 worth of food, which would be a real cool thing because we would be providing our community with $3,000 worth of food.” Beth Gillespie said. “That would be a quite a gift to give.”

To help students understand more about local food pantries, the Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteerism will spotlight a pantry and share its location; operational hours and days; what students should bring and how often can students go per month.

The goal is also help the Charleston High School backpack program by raising over 5,000 canned goods during the “Stuff the Bus” activity, Crystal Brown, assistant director Office of the Civic Engagement and Volunteerism, said.

“Stuff the Bus” will consist of filling a bus with canned goods.

There will also be a “Brush and Flush” drive where students can place items such as toothpaste, deodorant and toothbrushes in boxes found in all residence hall lobbies.

“It can stop you in your tracks when you think about it. A huge part of our community doesn’t have that,” Beth Gillespie said.  “So when you start thinking about it, a majority of people say ‘What can I do?’”


Kalyn Hayslett can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].