Hunger Awareness Hits Home
"Many people at Oberlin don't realize that Lorain County is the second poorest county in the state," says Alice Colman '07, an organizer of OPIRG (Ohio Public Interest Research Group), which sponsored a Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week on campus in November.
Initiated in 1972 at Villanova University in Pennsylvania, Hunger Week was designed to educate students, increase community service, and build campus coalitions. At Oberlin, Hunger and Homelessness Week is part of OPIRG's larger campaign to help student PIRGs nationwide organize hunger and homelessness-related events.
The week's events included a panel discussion on homelessness and a hunger banquet, where students took part in an exercise demonstrating the inequality of world hunger. Students were also urged to write to their legislators to urge passage of the National Housing Trust Fund Act in support of affordable housing. The week concluded with a Saturday night bonfire and "sleep out" in Tappan Square, followed by a Sunday morning vigil.
"There are a lot of students we didn't reach, but we're going to keep holding events and hope that more people will be affected," says Coleman. "I didn't know much about the circumstances that make people homeless. This week made the problem more real to me."
"We hope to encourage students to volunteer more in the community," added co-organizer Issie Karan '07.