Hunger and Homelessness Awareness week is an annual event that takes place in November. It is typically the week before Thanksgiving and this year it falls on the week of Saturday, Nov. 16 and will end Sunday, Nov. 24. Kean University's Center for Leadership and Service (CLS) will be hosting the week's events this year.
CLS is an organization focused on preparing students to become good leaders as well as developing ways to get the Kean community involved on campus or volunteering in their community. Every year, since the center began, they have put on service projects and events to aid in Hunger and Homelessness Awareness week, a week focused on reminding people to consider those that may not have enough to eat during this time of thankfulness.
During this time, people are encouraged to volunteer, host events and educate others on the prevalent issue of hunger in our country. CLS is able to do this with the help of their non-profit partners off campus and their on-campus partners that provide programs like the Food Bank Luncheon, which is hosted yearly by Student Organization, and last year's Human Rights Conference which focused on the Politics of Food.
CLS' Managing Assistant Director for Community Service and Civic Engagement Susan Figueroa believes that this is an important time and that people should realize that hunger is a prevalent issue in not only our country but also the world today.
"The thing I most would like people to take away from this is to realize that the issue of hunger is something that is everywhere," said Figueroa. "Food insecurity is in every city and every county. The good news is if it's everywhere then we have an opportunity to be of service to combat it everywhere too. There is room for impact for us all. "
With the goal to combat hunger in mind, CLS is asking the Kean community to come out and help them in this fight against hunger. There will be several different events throughout the week that people can participate in.
A list of service trips for Kean's Hunger and Homelessness Awareness week is as follows:
- Community Food Bank on Wednesday, Nov. 20 and Friday, Nov. 22
- Stand Campaign on Monday, Nov. 18
- Bernice's Place: Thanksgiving on Wednesday, Nov. 20
- Jon Bon Jovi's JBJ Soul Kitchen on Thursday, Nov. 21
- Habitat for Humanity on Saturday, Nov. 23
For more information on each event or to register, students may check Cougar Link.
Kean University also has its Cougar Pantry in the Human Rights Institute, Room 211, where students can go to drop off food for anyone who may need it. Questions about the food pantry can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition to dropping off food directly at the food pantry, students may opt to join the Cougar Pantry during their Tabling and Food Drive events on Tuesday, Nov. 19 and Wednesday, Nov. 20. Kean has also launched a Food Recovery Program where students will receive text alerts about free food on campus. To opt into the program, students may text @keanfood to 81010.
While Figueroa believes that starting the fight against hunger during Hunger and Homelessness Awareness week is a step in the right direction, she wants people to remember that the ending of the week does not mean people should stop giving or volunteering.
"This issue is a 365 day issue and not just an issue that can be combated one week a year," said Figueroa. "I encourage students to always try to be good citizens of the world and look to be of service to our very own campus students, our neighbors and our community at large. Host food drives, pay attention to those who are struggling and share resources. Volunteer your time, energy and money. We have to believe that we can make a difference in the lives of others. "
Anyone that would like to volunteer their time outside of campus or would like to learn more about Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week can visit their website.