Across the nation, the week before Thanksgiving is recognized as Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. Kean University’s Center for Leadership and Service (CLS) decided to bring this initiative to campus, spreading awareness over a few weeks from November 2016 into December 2016.
This year, CLS offered various community service opportunities to the Kean community. The week of awareness started with Pediatric Mobile Food Pantry on Tuesday, November 15, 2016, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. CLS continued with Community FoodBank of New Jersey on Friday, November 18, 2016, where students volunteered from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sharing the same mission, the FoodBank and Pediatric Mobile Food Pantry both offer an easier way for recipients to receive donated food. Not everyone has a car or access to transportation, which makes obtaining food and other necessary items for the family difficult.
During the entire week of Tuesday, November 15, 2016, to Friday November 18, 2016, students participated in the Stand Campaign. Kean University students stood in support of the cause to raise awareness for those who are homeless. As volunteers stood on Cougar Walk, students presented the Kean community with facts and figures about New Jersey's homeless population. By creating cardboard displays, they hoped to draw attention to this crucial social issue.
The Kean community’s awareness shifted to the homeless epidemic on Saturday, November 19, 2016, with Habitat for Humanity. From 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., students put on some work gloves, strapped on tool belts and got to work building a house. Habitat for Humanity’s mission is to build quality houses for low-income families.
One of the last community service outings for the mission was Adopt-A-Park on Sunday, November 20, 2016. From 9:45 a.m. to 1 p.m., student volunteers were responsible for cleaning up one of the many parks in Union County by collecting litter.
Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week will conclude with Game of Life, which will take place on Saturday, December 3, 2016, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Miron Student Center (MSC) room 228. This will be a distinctively interactive event, as CLS puts a spin on the classic board game, Game of Life. Participants will act as the pieces of the game, moving across the “board” as the game unfolds. While CLS is hoping Game of Life will be an enjoyable experience for participants, it also wants to emphasize the message of the event.
All events for Kean University’s Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week were reserved to drive home the importance of acknowledging economic difficulties in society. In the United States alone there were 43.1 million individuals classified as food insecure in 2015, according to Feeding America. On a state level, there is an undeniable hunger problem in New Jersey. There are approximately one million people in the state who do not know when their next meal will be, as reported by Table to Table.