The Tucker Foundation kicked off its Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week Sunday. Although this campaign is held the week before Thanksgiving on hundreds of college campuses, Dartmouth's involvement has a unique twist this year.
Dartmouth Ends Hunger, a Tucker Foundation-sponsored group, initiated a student-led project in which participants will eat only rice and beans, a common diet in developing countries, from Sunday to Saturday this week. The students either donate 3 dollars per meal, or are sponsored by friends and classmates for their meals.
The money raised will go toward an initiative to introduce semi-intensive, sustainable cattle farming techniques in Nicaragua, the second poorest nation in the western hemisphere.
The project aims to combine education and fundraising, but Zak Kaufman '08, co-director of DEH, hopes to focus on education.
"You're not really experiencing hunger and homelessness because you know at the end of the week you have a Homeplate cheeseburger waiting for you," said Kaufman, who is also a Community Service Civic Intern at the Tucker Foundation. "It's just about bringing up the issue."
He emphasized that the main goal of the week is not monetary, but to provide opportunities for discussion, to create awareness of serious, worldwide issues and to further activism and interest.
"The lessons people take away from this are invaluable," Kaufman said.
The idea for a rice and beans week is credited to Taylor Thompson '08, who is currently spending 11 months in Rwanda to work on the issues of AIDS and poverty. He used a professor's idea; she challenged her students to live on two dollars a day. Thompson thought about how it could be applied to Dartmouth.
"The rice and beans are symbolic," Kaufman said. "It is a time to reflect on what we have."
DEH was founded last spring by Thompson, Kaufman and Jane Choi '08.
A small-scale rice and beans week was run last spring, with about ten committed students who raised approximately $400.
Kaufman is more optimistic about this year's campaign.
In light of what has already been raised from t-shirt sales and donations, the group expects a total of about $2000. Another goal for this year is to foster a connection between faculty and students, Kaufman said.
Sociology professor Misagh Parsa is involved with the project and will be attending the meals and discussions.
"There is enough food in the world for everyone, but it is not equally distributed," Parsa said.
History professor Bruce Nelson also responded to the issue of wealth distribution.
He introduced the notion of "poverty of the imagination," that people cannot imagine anything different from the current economic distribution.
The week began with the Run for Hunger on Sunday, which raised about $200 and the Rock Out for a Cause benefit concert held last night to raise money for Habitat for Humanity and food for The Haven.
Lunches are served at Casque and Gauntlet from 12 to 2 p.m. and dinners are served at The Edge from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. all week.
Events continue throughout the week with panel discussions, a screening of "Walmart: The High Cost of Low Prices," a sleep-out on the Robinson Hall lawn Wednesday night and a hunger banquet on Thursday night.