Hunger week ends with fast

by Alexandra Friedman | 11/17/00 6:00am

In support of the nationally recognized Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, students organized a week's worth of activities this week to raise awareness on campus and facilitate the new involvement of concerned students -- but the general consensus of students involved in the activities is that the campus has not responded with enough enthusiasm.

"Interest is very lukewarm here," Sean Heikkila '02 said. Heikkila is a member of Kappa Kappa Kappa fraternity, one Greek organization that has played a major role in the week's events. "I think the people who are signing up for events are already Tucker volunteers."

Although there was an excellent turnout for "Pharaoh's Streets," a film made by Jethro Rothe-Kushel '03, according to Shilpa Lamba '00, who organized many of the week's events, many of the other events did not draw a similarly large crowd.

"We're saying 'Here's the problem, here's the way to solve it,'" Melanie Fox '03, treasurer for Habitat for Humanity, said. "I hope [the students] are inspired by this."

But, she added, "I think generally people are apathetic here, going through their daily lives day after day. Hanover is like a little bubble."

According to Lamba, "We're trying to burst that bubble."

Dartmouth's HHAW is a College version of the national awareness week, an annual event co-sponsored by the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness.

The national organizations encourage undergraduates to organize events at their respective colleges.

Lamba and Christopher Taylor '01 were the main organizers in this week's events. They worked together with the various Tucker organizations concerning food and shelter, as well as Dartmouth Habitat for Humanity, Students Fighting Hunger, and Operation Installation, to coordinate a string of activities.

This week's series of events so far has included a wasted food survey in the campus dining facilities, an a cappella benefit show, a 30 hour fast and a "hunger banquet," described as a dramatization of the unequal global wealth distribution.

Major goals of the week, according to Lamba, are raising the level of awareness on the campus and "getting more students involved in community service."

One way in which the committee of students running the activities raised awareness on campus was by posting signs with the results of the Wasted Food Survey. At Homeplate, 91 lbs. of food were calculated to be wasted on November 15, and at Food Court a total of 112 lbs. were wasted.

Most students are unaware of the fact that if one were to walk only ten miles out of Hanover, one would encounter economically depressed communities, Lamba noted.

"The statistics in the Upper Valley are shocking," she said. "The number of families living below the poverty line is really shocking."

Aside from the central focus of awareness, fund-raising is another important aspect of the week, as various events have been raising money to donate to a shelter in White River Junction, among others.

The volunteers and club leaders all emphasized their desire to bring more people out to help.

"I wish more people would get involved but it's tough to reach everybody," said Soon Hyouk Lee '01, who has been involved in the Tucker Foundation and has led two spring break trips to Jacksonville, Fla., to work at a homeless shelter.

Only two days remain of HHAW, which concludes its week-long set of activities tomorrow.

Tonight, the 30-hour fast ends and a Gathering of Fasters will be held at 7p.m. in Tindle Lounge. This break of fast will be followed by a "Topside Takeover," in which fasters will converge at Topside to spend the DBA they had saved by fasting on canned food for donation.

A 5K Race Against Hunger will take place tomorrow at noon, starting on the Green.

The final activity will be a student and alumni panel tomorrow at 3 p.m. called "What Can We Do?" This event will feature three speakers, including Taylor, Nancy Bloomfield '99 and Erick Viorritto '01.

"People shouldn't just think that they can be aware for only this week, but they should take [the awareness] with them," Fox said.