No one should have to worry about whether they will have food on their plate or a roof over their head, but the reality is that hunger and homelessness are widespread problems that affect far too many people.
In the United States: Many Americans are living on the edge, forced to choose between basic necessities like purchasing food, paying rent, or going to the doctor. In 2019, there were 34.0 million people living in poverty. Since then, the COVID-19 pandemic, economic turmoil, and inadequate government support have only worsened the poverty rate, with the poverty rate reaching a high of 17.3 percent in August.
On-Campus: College campuses are not immune. In a survey cited by the UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, which included 43,000 student respondents from over 60 community colleges and 4-year colleges/universities, 36% of students reported experiencing food insecurity in the last thirty days. A nationwide study done by the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice corroborates this statistic, finding that 41% of four-year university students who responded to the survey were food insecure in the summer of 2019.
Worldwide: While there has been slow but steady progress over the past thirty years, there are still 795 million people – or one in nine people in the world – who do not have enough to eat. 896 million people in developing countries live on $1.90 a day or less. According to the World Bank, the COVID-19 pandemic is estimated to increase the amount of people in extreme poverty by 88-115 million, with the total reaching 150 million by 2021.
Our Intersectional Lens: Hunger and homelessness are symptoms of a complex cycle of poverty, often sustained by systemic racism and other forms of hate. From the discriminatory housing practices of the mid-1900s to modern laws that criminalize homelessness, our campaign seeks to address, respond to, and take action against systems that target vulnerable populations. The intersectionality of hunger and homelessness begs advocates to ask why, for instance, of the 3.5 million people that experience homelessness in the United States, 42% are African American and 20% are Hispanic; why 80% of homeless single parents with children are female; why 20-40% of the homeless youth population identify as LGBTQ; and why 30% of the homeless population have a mental disability.
As college students, and especially as members of a global society that is experiencing intensified hardship during the pandemic, we have an obligation to continue thoughtful advocacy through service and education.
Hunger at UConn
- Designed a website to provide resources surrounding food and home insecurity
- Volunteered at Covenant Soup Kitchen and the Windham Region No Freeze Shelter
- Hosted awareness-based and educational panels, movie screenings, and other events during Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week
- Worked to help the UConn Dean of Students Office and Office of Student Affairs to distribute a food insecurity survey
- Helped design and implement the 2019 in-person and 2020 virtual models of Husky Market in collaboration with USG, Minority Health Matters, and the UConn Nutrition Club
- Created voter toolkits in English and Spanish with UConnPIRG’s New Voters Project for the Windham Region No Freeze Shelter to help individuals experiencing homelessness exercise their right to vote in the 2020 Presidential Elections
- Took legislative action to lobby for HB 5013, the house bill that expands SNAP eligibility to college students
- Ran a successful donation drive in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity, Phi Sigma Pi Fraternity, PERIOD @ UConn, and Community Outreach in which we provided 23 blankets, 13 sweatpants, 12 sweatshirts, 20 deodorant sticks, packs of underwear, menstrual products, lightly used clothing from on-campus donations, paper towels, shoes, and cash donations to the Windham Region No Freeze Shelter
- Development and expansion of the Husky Market program with USG’s Food Insecurity Task Force, Minority Health Matters, and the UConn Nutrition Club, in which UConnPIRG has committed $20,000 to expand the length and reach of the program
- Work with the President’s Commitment to Community Initiative with UConnPIRG’s Save the Earth campaign in their mission to “reduce bigotry, prejudice, and discrimination and to foster respect and understanding among the UConn community” through events focused on sustainability and food accessibility
- Develop collaborative initiatives to financially and holistically support UConn organizations specializing in poverty relief
- Implement service projects in collaboration with Covenant Soup Kitchen and the Windham Region No Freeze Shelter
- Prepare for a virtual Pandemic Relief Lobby Day during the 2021 spring legislative session, which is expected to include pandemic relief bills concerning SNAP, mortgage and rent forgiveness, and/or other forms of aid central to the wellbeing of UConn students and CT residents
- Enhance the accessibility and quality of the H&H Website to better serve food and home insecure students
- Create PIRG-wide care packages and merchandise for UConn students
To learn more about our initiatives, the resources available at UConn, and ways to use your student power, please visit the frequently updated H&H Website