Hunger and Homelessness

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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 U.S.: Many Americans are living on the edge, forced to choose between basic necessities like purchasing food, paying rent, or going to the doctor. In 2014, almost 46.7 million Americans were living below the poverty level, and on a typical night, more than 578,000 Americans were homeless.

On-Campus: Poverty isn’t exclusive to any one community. Even college campuses are not immune. Nationwide, studies have shown that about one in three students experience some sort of food insecurity.

Worldwide: At the global level, the problem is even more serious. 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.

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.

We have the resources and knowledge to eliminate hunger and homelessness in our time, but it remains to be seen whether we have the political will to do so. Fortunately, on campuses across the country, there are students like us who are dedicated to making their communities a better place and improving the lives and well-being of those around them. Our campaign takes this passion and dedication and harnesses it through a combination of direct service, fundraising events, and political advocacy.

As students, we have the ideas, solutions, and resources to make a change – and by joining together, we can end hunger and homelessness.

Hunger at UConn

Here at UConn, our campaign focuses on education and service. Just steps off of campus, in Willimantic, the poverty rate is almost double the national average - there's a lot of work for us to do. We host an awareness week in the fall, with events including a Voices on Poverty Panel, as well as a poverty simulation and movie screening. We work with organizations like the Windham Region No Freeze Shelter and Covenant Soup Kitchen to volunteer as often as we can throughout each semester. 

Another important aspect of our campaign is building coalitions. We're currently a part of the UConn Access to Food Effort, which has pioneered the idea of pop-up food pantries and worked to help the UConn Dean of Students Office and Office of Student Affairs to distribute a food insecurity survey. Now, we're working with the results of that survey and addressing student food insecurity through the Husky Market, a bi-weekly opportunity run by us and the Undergraduate Student Government for students in need to get free groceries and other hygiene products. UConn offers many opportunities for students who need help to receive it, including the Students First Funds and UConn Swipes, which we are currently helping them promote.

These issues need global attention, and to get started, we need to help those in immediate need through volunteering. But we can't stop there. Visibility, advocacy, and education are essential to this endeavor.

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Source for intersectional statistics: https://digitalcommons.law.seattleu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1002&context=hrap

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Rebecca Tripp