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Hunger awareness hits home for students

Felicia Skriver, The Clackamas Print
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Volume 45, Issue 24

Hunger awareness is brought to Clackamas Community College by the efforts of the associated student government and the Oxfam organization. Oxfam was founded in 1995 by a group of independent nongovernmental organizations. The group is an international confederation composed of 17 different organizations networked together in 92 countries.

The event on May 31 was coordinated to make our population aware of the striking hunger problem that not only affects foreign countries, but also how it hits home in Clackamas County.

"I was low-income at one time so I feel it's my duty to give back what I can," said student Susan Wonderly. "I think everyone should be aware of hunger."

The structure of the event was designed so that when one would check-in for the luncheon, they would receive a card that specified what class of citizen they were to be. The lower class would sit on the floor, and middle class at tables. As the rows of tables got closer to the back wall the classes rose.

The amount and varieties of the lunches were also organized according to class. The high income diners were served every food group. They enjoyed a variety of beverages, deli sandwiches and fresh fruit. These lunch goers were also served promptly while the other classes had to wait to have their meals that at the lowest income level was a ladle of communal water and one spoonful of plain white rice. These poorest of the attendees also had to wait the longest to satiate their hunger.

The sizes of all the classes were also arranged to represent how many people in the world are low-income compared to how many are high-income.

"I think that it will make everyone more aware of not only world hunger, but hunger in our community," said Diana Muresan, the supervisor of the low-income group. "When people think of hunger they think of starving foreign countries when half of us college students are hungry."

Several speakers were invited to share their knowledge and experiences with hunger. Carrie Summers, a sociology professor here at Clackamas, spoke out about the issues with poverty, and how, they play into the food system..

"We do make enough food to feed the world. It's all about the political jargon," said Summers. "It's the flaw in the food distribution system."

According to Summers, in the time that it takes to pull out a phone to check Facebook, 200 people have died.

"I am starving," said Lou Radja, the president of Rotary Club and speaker at the lunch, as he took the microphone to begin his speech. As of 6 p.m. the previous night Radja decided to not eat or drink anything until the event.

"I grew up in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Africa," said Radja. "And there is nothing like walking 45 minutes to school with a hungry stomach, and even try and sit there and pretend to understand what they're trying to teach us. And to walk another 45 [minutes] hoping that mom had enough money to have dinner waiting for us."

Radja also went on to say that "hunger cannot be tolerated in a land of abundance."

Representatives of local food banks and food charities also made it to the event, speaking out about the growing food problem here in Clackamas County. Alice Hayden from the organization Helping Other People Eat, or HOPE, explained that in 2005 they served 5,000 households, and last year the number increased to 8,000 households.

"The impacts of hunger on children are far more devastating than to adults," said Lesley Nelson from Partners of Hunger Free Oregon.

Her organization promotes child nutrition programs. They were able to give 55,000 meals to children in the summer of 2011. She believes the number still needs to increase to meet the demand.

"I thought it was awesome! And very informative," said Wonderly. "I learned things, and I'm very glad they provided information on the back of these cards, because I've always wanted to volunteer in such things, but didn't know how to get into it."

Wonderly walked away from the event knowing she's going to donate to one of the organizations.

"I think it was great, more than I thought," said ASG member Tolu Oyetunde, the main organizer of the event. "I'm just really happy this was our first and the turnout was awesome. We'll see how next year goes."

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