Thoughts from the HungerU Road
Follow along as the HungerU Crew brings you updates from the road.
noun: a person who rises in opposition
MAR 8, 2014
-- By Mallory Weber, HungerU Crew
Ole Miss, home of the Rebels, is located in beautiful Oxford, Mississippi. Though our first day on campus may have been far from beautiful with a temperature of 32 degrees accompanied by freezing rain, Friday couldn’t have been better if I had ordered the weather myself! Sunshine, warm temps and passionate people. One of those people was Victor, a proud Rebel.
Victor and I talked for quite some time about a plethora of things: food security, hunger relief efforts in Oxford, where we come from, school, and many other things. All the while, as I listened to Victor talk, what I heard more than anything was his sincere passion and eagerness to help those around him. To help complete strangers, because if he doesn’t, who will?
If he doesn’t, then who will? The answer to that question shouldn’t be ‘no one.’ The answer should be ‘everyone.’ Why isn’t it? Why do we just assume that someone else with take care of the problem for us? Why do we see a food drive going on and instead of taking 5 minutes and 5 dollars to donate, blow it off and assume someone else will? Sometimes, that one can of food that you could’ve donated is the difference between someone having dinner that night, and adding another tally to the number of nights they’ve gone without.
Victor and I talked about the fact that so many people walk by donation sites every day without even noticing them. We tried to imagine what the amount of collected food would look like if every single person that passed by donated one item. However, they stay empty. We all follow the crowd and join as they pass by without giving. We talked about how frustrating it is that this is the one time we should be going against the crowd.
So, here’s an idea. Rebel. Rebel against what has become the norm. Make your own norm. Start donating to every drive you can. Grab your friends, get them to donate, too. Let’s make it a full-blown rebellion. Let’s turn the empty shelves of food banks and pantries that are begging for donations into shelves that are so full we are more worried about them giving way instead of dusting them.
Let’s give a new meaning to term the Rebels. Let’s make a rebellion against hunger. Let’s put an end to hunger, and if I know any one thing for certain, it’s that it’s going to take all of us.
Ole Miss has 18,794 proud Rebels. Are you going to be proud to call yourself a rebel in the rebellion against hunger?
The Power of One
MAR 5, 2013
-- By Marshall K. Dolch, HungerU Crew
There are lots of firsts in life. Like your first day of school, first date, first paycheck or first vacation, just to name a few. But what about the first time you helped someone out? If you’re like me, you probably don’t remember when that was. Not because you’ve never assisted anybody, but because it was more than likely when you were just a wee little tike.
The encore to our Auburn/Universities Fighting World Hunger stop took place in Tuskegee, Alabama, at the historic Tuskegee University. I was extremely excited to visit this campus for a couple reasons before arriving, but following our stop, I was excited to have visited for many more. The first reason was because Tuskegee is the centerpiece of two fantastic movies: "Tuskegee Airmen" and "Red Tails". If you haven’t seen either, please do! Second, this is the college where one of agriculture’s brightest minds did much of his work. That bright mind happened to belong to George Washington Carver, a former Iowa State University student.
While both of our days turned out to be a little chillier than we had hoped for, Mother Nature’s antics did not put a damper on the wonderful conversations the crew was able to have with students. Needless to say, we walked away thoroughly impressed. One conversation stood out in particular, though.
A young man named Atiba took several minutes out of his day to tell us a touching story. While walking through downtown Manhattan, New York, one night, he came across a homeless lady who was injured, shivering and hungry. After a trip to the nearest grocery store, Atiba brought the woman some soup and soon followed it up with a phone call to his dad asking if he could pick them up and provide her with a place to shower and sleep for the night. There was deliberation, but Atiba’s father agreed to make the drive and allowed her to use the guest bedroom for the evening.
What started out as a night’s stay blossomed into something much greater. Within days, Atiba’s father had gotten the woman a job. Taking advantage of the newfound opportunity, she worked her way back on her feet and did so in wonderful fashion. Now, almost five years later, the once injured, shivering, hungry and homeless woman is a branch manager with a corporate bank and still keeps in touch with Atiba to this day.
Not only is that a story of incredible perseverance, but a testimony to how one person’s actions can make a world of difference. Atiba didn’t have to stop and offer the woman a helping hand, but he did, and he is a better man for it. I wanted to share this story with you because YOU can make an impact, too. It might not look anything like Atiba’s, but an impact is an impact no matter how big or small.
Think about how different our society would be if every person adopted Atiba’s desire to help others. Even though he was only one, his influence was certainly felt. The same goes for the fight against world hunger. Whatever that fight looks like in your eyes, BELIEVE that you can leave an imprint. As my fellow Cyclone George Washington Carver once said, "It is not the style of clothes one wears, neither the kind of automobile one drives, nor the amount of money one has in the bank, that counts. These mean nothing. It is simply service that measures success."
Making a difference takes commitment, and commitment starts with you. How will you respond?
Universities Fighting World Hunger at Auburn: Empathy Fighting Apathy
MAR 3, 2014
-- By Tray Heard, HungerU Crew
Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent. The words listed above are the 12 points of Boy Scout Law. The time we spent talking with Boy Scouts, college students and policy leaders in Auburn for the Universities Fighting World Hunger (UFWH) Annual Summit proved they are not just words the scouts know by heart, but ideals that many people strive for when working to lessen the struggles of others.
Young, intelligent, well-spoken and hopeful, those are the words I would use to describe the group of young men we met. They were visiting the Auburn campus to earn a merit badge for their respective troops, attracted to our trailer’s location because of the pedal tractors we have for people to take for a ride. They stuck around to talk about the hunger crisis and offered up solutions as if they were studying agricultural policy at the university.
Mallory and I were blown away by their observations about the state of things and their ideas about ways to change the status quo. "The best part is that it’s the youth who shape tomorrow. So eventually, it’s going to be up to us and we can make the change [to end hunger]," said one of the taller scouts in the group. Speaking beyond their years about agriculture, industrialization and water deprivation, they showed an understanding of how change is brought about that many people three times their age simply don’t comprehend.
That is not to say we did not meet other young people with similar ideals and a clear understanding of the issues at hand. Being on campus during the UFWH annual summit created an amazing opportunity to speak with college students and professionals from across the country who understand the hunger crisis and are working to create solutions. I had the chance to speak with several Auburn University students who attended the summit and they all, some agriculture majors and some not, appreciated what the HungerU Tour stands for. I, in turn, told them how much I appreciated the work that they have been doing long before we arrived with our exhibit.
The biggest highlight of being on campus during the UFWH event was the visits we had from the speakers, panelists, board members and attendees of the summit. Having policy affecters from Washington, D.C., who work for organizations like the World Food Programme and the Food & Agriculture Organization at our exhibit was an amazing thing to see. David Lambert, a board member of the Farm Journal Foundation-the group that helps HungerU exist-was in town for the summit and meeting with him as he saw our exhibit for the first time was an honor. Roger Thurow, former Wall Street Journal foreign correspondent and author of two books chronicling the hunger crisis that should be required reading for anyone hoping to understand this issue, made a stop by our exhibit before opening up the summit with this rousing quote, "We need outrage and inspiration to make the impossible become reality."
Multiple representatives of universities from across the country were able to come by our exhibit and after speaking with them we hope the impression we left will allow new colleges to be added to future tours. The appreciation they all showed for the work our crew is doing was incredible and I couldn’t help but swell with pride with their kind words of encouragement.
We packed up as the sun started to sneak behind Jordan-Hare Stadium, the "Campus Green" emptying of the large groups of Boy Scouts, science competition attendees and Auburn students who had come out to make the most of the beautiful Saturday afternoon weather. Our time at Auburn University was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, in every sense of the word.
Meeting and talking with people of all ages and from so many different backgrounds, all coming together with a common understanding of the crisis that affects us all and a strong determination to find solutions was as uplifting a start to our tour as any of us could have hoped for. As we travel to our next destination I’m optimistic that we can find more and more students, young people and vocal supporters who are as empathetic to the struggles of others as those we found in Auburn, Alabama.
Roger Thurow, author of Enough and The Last Hunger Season, with Marshall, Mollie, Tray and Mallory.
War Eagles Waging a War on Hunger
FEB 29, 2014
-- By Mollie Dykes, HungerU Crew
I have been a long-time football fan, especially SEC football, so visiting the Auburn University campus for our first stop on the Spring 2014 Tour was sheer perfection for me. This is definitely a campus that LOVES their football team, and with good reason. Another thing this campus loves is their War on Hunger Initiative, which is creating a large ripple effect of change.
Auburn takes part in several efforts to battle hunger in their community, including the Beat ’Bama Food Drive in conjunction with the annual Iron Bowl. This past year, Auburn set a goal of raising 350,000 pounds of food because that’s the amount of food that the Food Bank of East Alabama hands out in one month.
Check out the awesome 2013 video promoting the food drive:
What I love most about this food drive is how they take a major event such as the Iron Bowl to bring awareness to the crisis. Auburn and the University of Alabama are able to put their fierce rivalry aside momentarily and work together to fight for an important cause. Everyone involved is able to learn about the hunger issue and take part in ending it. With that said, they still compete to see which school can collect the most food.
They also host an annual hunger week that leads up to the Iron Bowl where several events take place to bring even more awareness about the hunger crisis and educate students about how they can help. Restaurants across town volunteer to donate a portion of their profits to fighting hunger when students come to eat and there is a lecture series featuring speakers who are well known for their hunger-fighting efforts. Students are also given the opportunity to participate in a meal preparation event with Auburn’s chapter of The Campus Kitchens Project.
I spoke with several students who had taken part in these events and their passion for ending hunger is ten kinds of inspiring. Elizabeth has a goal to join the Peace Corps after she graduates college. Alex attended the LeaderShape Institute where they were all fed 25 cent meals one night of the conference. He told me that it was an eye-opening moment seeing just how little he got for 25 cents and realizing that many people live on even less than that per day. Anna Leigh comes from a large farm in northern Alabama where she and her brothers are doing their part to feed the rapidly growing population by raising corn, wheat and soybeans.
The War Eagle pride runs deep in every Auburn student, but even more importantly, you can see the spirit and desire to do their part to end hunger. The most important thing I learned from the Auburn students is that we can all do something to help fight hunger. Whether it’s doing something as simple as donating to a local food drive or something as big as joining the Peace Corps as Elizabeth plans to do, we can all join in on this fight together. I’m now even more inspired to do my part. Also, because of what Auburn stands for, I’ll be making the extra effort to cheer for Auburn from here on out … as long as they aren’t playing my beloved Razorbacks. :)
Read the 2013 HungerU Blog Archive.