Katie Hurlock, Staff Writer
Students at Mary Baldwin recently concluded a week long lesson in the realities of food insecurity, or the inability to obtain an adequate amount of nutritious food. The events, called “Hunger Awareness Week,” featured different events and guest speakers almost every night, sponsored by the Spencer Center for Civic and Global Engagement.
On Monday, Robert Egger, founder of the DC Central Kitchen, accepted an award from the International Beliefs and Values Institute, started by members of the Mary Baldwin and James Madison communities in order to honor those who participate in various types of service. He spoke briefly, describing the goals of the DC Central Kitchen, which include feeding people who are hungry using restaurant leftovers, along with a chef training program, designed in particular for those who are re-entering the world after prison. In addition, he spoke about other aspects of service he values, such as intergenerational connection between very young and elderly volunteers.
Tuesday featured a variety of speakers, including some Mary Baldwin students, on ways to help with food insecurity in the area, including a visit by a representative from the local Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. This was followed by a screening and discussion of The Line, which told real stories of Americans living in deep poverty through very different circumstances, hosted by MBC Chaplain Dr. Low.
On Thursday, a group of volunteers in the Spencer Center gave a presentation on the negative effects of factory farming, which include impacting animal welfare, environmental quality, and the food supply.
“It’s important because we take care of domestic and exotic animals, so we should take care of the animals we plan to eat as well,” said sophomore Tisha Wilkerson. “They can carry disease, which is not healthy for Americans.”
The events concluded on Friday with a Hunger Simulation, in which students were given a “character” to play, each with a limited amount of funds and resources, along with varying family sizes and other issues, such as being unable to obtain food aid due to immigration status. This truly opened students’ eyes to the many realities of hunger in the United States.
According to Betsey Suchanic, Class of ‘16, “It was really eye-opening how huge this issue is. Here, in America, people don’t have enough to eat.”
If you would like to get involved in assisting those with food insecurity in the area, there are many options, including volunteering with the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank or the Boys and Girls Club (in Staunton or Waynesboro), which helps feed healthy snacks and meals to kids in need. Any questions can be directed to the staff of the Spencer Center.