In honor of Homelessness and Hunger Awareness Week, Cal Poly Student Community Services (SCS) will hold a number of events for “See the Need” week, urging students to volunteer and become more educated about hunger in both San Luis Obispo and national communities.
See the Need week started on Sunday, Nov. 14, with a canned food drive at local grocery stores and a dinner at the Maxine Lewis Memorial Shelter in San Luis Obispo.
Missy Sparks, an environmental management senior, participated in the food drive on Nov. 14 at the Albertsons on Foothill Boulevard. Sparks said she participated in the food drive because she enjoys seeing people help out.
“I feel like when you volunteer, you actually see where things go, you see kind of the behind the scenes type of thing,” Sparks said. “We actually see the food bank trucks come and take the food to the shelter and to their pantry and really provide for our homeless population.”
Andrea Linzey, a liberal studies senior, also participated in the food drive at Albertsons. Linzey said it was “nice to see people come together” for a good cause.
“When we got here, there was just a bottom layer full of stuff, now we’re three-fourths full, so in two and a half hours, I think we’re doing a pretty good job,” Linzey said.
Sparks also said it is easy to ask people for donations.
“It’s just a simple question if they’re willing to donate for a good cause, especially with the holiday season starting up,” Sparks said.
Brittany Frost, an environmental engineering senior, is the SCS director behind See the Need week.
Although Nov. 14 to Nov. 20 is Homelessness and Hunger Awareness week, See the Need only focuses on hunger. SCS then holds a homelessness awareness week in spring.
Since homelessness and hunger are both such important issues, holding two separate events allows the group to put more time and effort into each separately, Frost said.
Hunger awareness is especially important for students who, due to the economy, may be hungry themselves, she said.
“Especially with the economy, there are a lot of students who are struggling to buy groceries and that’s an important thing for students,” Frost said. “To be able to buy healthy food and good food for you is not the cheapest thing, so … I think a lot of students struggle from the cost of food and cost of living in general.”
However, See the Need is not the only food drive occurring around San Luis Obispo. Tyler Johnson, a business administration senior, and Tesha Babka, a child development senior, both participated in their own food drive at Ralph’s. With the holiday season fast approaching, the two collected food for holiday dinners for needy families at the San Luis Obispo Child Development Center for a class project. The goal of their project was to show that hunger awareness comes in many forms.
Johnson said students in his class project group chose to give to the Child Development Center because “the families are in need and very well deserving.” He also wanted to give something tangible to the families themselves, instead of just money.
The group is hoping to raise $1,000 to buy turkeys for the families, Babka said.
According to an article by Gloria Hillard for National Public Radio, “College Students Hide Hunger, Homelessness,” due to the economy, there has been a rise in student hunger and homelessness, though “nobody has firm numbers.” Students are not only losing jobs, but so are their parents, causing financial stress. According to the article, University of California, Los Angeles has created an Economic Crisis Response Team to try to identify students who are struggling financially to in order to keep them in school.
The rest of See the Need Week will focus on collecting food and clothing for those in need. On Nov. 15, volunteers will collect clothing on Dexter Lawn, a food drive competition between colleges continues through Saturday and a screening of “Dive,” a movie about a man who lived on dumpster diving, will be screened at 7 p.m. in the University Union (UU), room 221.
On Tuesday, Nov. 16, there will be a Soup and Substance event at 11 a.m. in the UU, room 204, and a World Hunger Banquet Dinner at 7 p.m. in the UU, room 220. Wednesday will offer breakfast at the Prado Day Center (a day center for the homeless) which will offset the start of a 30-hour famine that ends on Thursday, Nov. 18.
Frost said the famine will show students what it is like for those that are starving and will have bulletin boards on Dexter Lawn for students to write their thoughts.
In celebration of the end of the famine, lunch will be held for participants on Dexter Lawn from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. On Friday, Nov. 19 there will be a carnival at the Boys and Girls Club in Paso Robles at 3 p.m. Friday is also the last day for the canned food drive competition. On Saturday, Nov. 20, another canned food drive will be held at local grocery stores to end the week.
Frost hopes more people will volunteer this year and become “passionate” about helping the hungry. However, she said the week is fun even if more people do not volunteer, she said.
“I know during hunger awareness week, I feel like we have the most volunteers over throughout the year,” Frost said. “People are just stoked to go serve dinner and serve breakfast at the homeless shelter. It’s really fun and it’s an awesome way to give back.”
Those who are interested in volunteer opportunities or more information can go to room 217 in the UU.