By Keri Luise, Assistant News Editor
Photo Courtesy of National Homelessness and Hunger Awareness Week
National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, held from Nov. 10-18, is a country-wide movement meant to draw attention to the issues of homelessness, hunger and food insecurity across the nation.
The Office of Civic Engagement and Leadership organized events to help promote the week of awareness. The events were meant to educate people about homelessness and hunger, and encourage community members to serve those in the local community who are struggling from hunger and homelessness.
Throughout the week, TU held “Paws Against Hunger,” a campus-wide supply drive collecting food and hygiene items for the campus FoodShare. Donation bins were located in the Student Union and the Administration Building.
“The TU campus FoodShare is a resource on campus for any TU students, faculty or staff who find themselves in need of additional support with groceries and hygiene items,” said Lisa Hill, TU Coordinator of Community Service. “And so, we’ll be giving back to our own community.”
Sophomore Quineshay Murphy was one Towson student who donated food to the supply drive.
“It makes people become more aware of others in tough situations,” Murphy said.
For more people to become aware on a regular basis, Murphy thinks that hosting more food drives and creating safe spaces to discuss homelessness and hunger would be help the cause.
TU worked to gain energy and support from many student organizations and departments on campus.
“There’ve been several Greek life organizations and some club sports, as well as SGA student organizations that have been collecting donations,” Hill said.
Towson has been involved with the National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week for a few years now and has worked hard to ensure that the campus gives back to the local community.
“There’s been a higher number of folks using the FoodShare this year based on the need as well as people learning more about it, and so it’s becoming a better used resource,” Hill said. “And so, with that, as more folks learn about it, they need more supplies to help support the program. So, it was a natural partnership between Hunger and Homelessness Week and supporting those issues as they exist within our own community.”
Annie Leomporra, a Civil Rights Fellow for the National Coalition for the Homeless, feels that the week allows for people across the country to discuss strategies to prevent food insecurity and homelessness.
“Around this time of year, everyone starts thinking about other people and giving back to the community,” Leomporra said. “So, having this one dedicated week to really think about housing and security and food insecurity allows great attention for all communities across this country to really focus on kitchen table issues.”
One sponsor of the awareness week, the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness, works to engage college students in the fight to end hunger and homelessness through service, education, fundraising and advocacy.
The other sponsor of this week, the National Coalition for the Homeless is an advocacy organization that works specifically to end homelessness across the country.
“On our end, we really focus on organizations and getting organizations to register like soup kitchens, park service providers, other advocacy organizations,” Leomporra said. “We really look at the root causes that create homelessness across this country and try to eradicate those structures and change policy on the city, state and federal level.”
TU worked to ensure that there were many opportunities to keep students involved in raising awareness and helping serve during National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.
“On Monday [Nov. 12] students served dinner at the Franciscan Center in Baltimore,” Hill said. “And then on Tuesday [Nov. 13] we partnered with Hillel to do a Challah for Hunger event where they baked bread and the proceeds go to support local hunger relief agencies.”
On Wednesday, Nov. 14, there was a supply drive collection at the Towson TEDx event, and on Friday, Nov. 16, the Office of Civic Engagement and Social Responsibility held a New York Times Talk focusing on environmentalism and hunger and the intersection between them.
And on [Thursday, Nov. 15 ] a round table discussion was scheduled to talk about Hunger and Homelessness and what student organizations could do to address those issues. However, this event got snowed out as campus closed.
“Homelessness and hunger is part of everyone’s community,” Leomporra said. “We might not see it as blatantly as someone sitting on a street corner, but it is an issue that has touched every single community across this country.”