The Oberlin Review
<< Front page News April 21, 2006

OPIRG’s Campus Fast Helps Homeless

According to Ohio State University’s Extension Data Center’s most recent statistics, nearly ten percent of Lorain County’s residents live in poverty. It was statistics like these that drew first-year Jenny Ray to join Oberlin College’s chapter of OhioPIRG.

“I had been reading a lot about hunger and homelessness in Lorain County,” said Ray. “I was really surprised.”

The most recent campaign organized by the group, as part of OhioPIRG’s Hunger and Homelessness Campaign, was a campus-wide fast/donate-a-meal program. Oberlin’s Housing and Dining Committee voted to donate $750 if the group could gather the requisite 100 signatures.

In a mere week and a half, they gathered 214.

The way the program works is that those who signed the petition had one board meal removed from their plan that week.

“There isn’t a specific day you skip a meal,” said Ray, explaining why the word “fast” may be misleading.

The donation will be formally made sometime this week to Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio, an umbrella organization coordinating many anti-hunger activities in the region. Second Harvest was chosen for two reasons: the fact that it’s local and has the power to make the most of donations.

“For every dollar Second Harvest receives,” said Ray, “they are able to provide seven meals because of corporate donations.”

Rebecca Bell, campus organizer for Oberlin’s OhioPIRG chapter, said, “I think it’s really cool that we chose to focus on a local organization. Most other campuses donated to national campaigns, [but] there’s a serious local need.”

Both organizers were pleased with the outcome of the drive. Still, Ray feels that had they had more time and more volunteers, they could have reached even more people on campus.

“I think it was successful because we are doing something concrete,” she said. “But it could have been a lot better in terms of awareness. We could have reached a lot more areas on campus.”

However, the $750 donation speaks to the overall accomplishment of the program. In addition, Ray said it was key in “building relationships with the College.”

Bell agreed, saying, “We’re in a really good place for next semester to take the same ideas and make it bigger.”


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