Students' fast benefits Hunger Awareness Week

By Diane Ainsworth, Public Affairs

06 December 00 | Nearly 800 students living in the residence halls raised $1,600 for a local Alameda County food bank by giving up a dinner last week during Berkeley's observance of National Hunger Awareness Week.

The fast was part of a weeklong series of events, which included a campus-wide food drive, a rally and informational fair in upper Sproul Plaza, and guest talks by representatives of the Institute for Food & Development Policy/Food First and the Congressional Hunger Center in Washington, D.C. The event was sponsored by Cal Corps, a public service center which supports service efforts by Berkeley students.

"This was important because most students (living in the residence halls) are not from this area and don't know about hunger," said Steven Fong, a senior biology major and resident assistant in Unit 1. "This was a good way of exposing them to the larger issues that they probably haven't heard about."

Each residence hall meal earmarked for donation brought in $2 for the Alameda County Community Food Bank, which distributes food to schools, community centers and the needy through a variety of programs. Units 1, 2 and 3 and the Foothill residence hall participated in the Nov. 30 fast.

The Alameda County Community Food Bank, which partners with the university to carry out some of its programs, dishes up 5,446 meals per month to Alameda County low-income families, single mothers, those living below the poverty level and the homeless. Currently there are 158,000 people living at or below the poverty level, the food bank reports, and one in 10 people in Alameda County is in need of food assistance.

A campus-wide food drive conducted during the week also proved successful, culminating in substantial quantities of canned meats, fruits, vegetables, soups, beans, rice and monetary donations for the Alameda food bank, said Devin Kinyon, coordinator of this year's Hunger Awareness Week.

"This was a really exciting opportunity for me," added Elena Almazol, a senior political science major and Cal Corps special projects intern. "I learned a lot about hunger by calling around to all the different agencies to help coordinate the event."

A guest talk by Nick Parker of the Institute for Food and Development Policy/Food First, held Nov. 29, addressed international issues surrounding hunger and how organizations like Food First are striving to eradicate hunger. The Congressional Hunger Center held a workshop on the Mickey Leland-Bill Emerson Hunger Fellowship for students seeking opportunities to become involved in hunger prevention. The workshop was presented by Julie Venice and Elan Nissenboim of the Alameda County Community Food Bank.

The food bank, which is able to distribute "a football field filled waist deep with food" each month in Alameda, hopes to double the amount of food given out to residents in the next five to seven years. Cal Corps representatives said they planned to support that goal by working with other campus organizations next year to draw more attention to the event.






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