DEH connects world hunger, fair trade

by HANNAH SIMON | 10/30/06 6:00am

Approximately 100 Dartmouth students showed up to sample and view a variety of free fair trade products at the first Fair Trade Halloween in Collis Cafe on Saturday.

The event, sponsored by Dartmouth Ends Hunger, displayed products ranging from bananas to Ecuadorian chocolate to homemade jewelry, in an initiative to encourage Dartmouth Dining Services to supply more fair trade products.

Despite rainy weather and minimal advertising, the turnout was "pleasantly surprising," Jonathan Merten '09, organizer of the event, said.

The non-profit organization also recruited several speakers from the Ecuadorian fair trade cooperative Kaillaire to discuss the importance of localized farming on the economic welfare of developing countries.

"We're trying get people excited about fair trade coffee and chocolate," Merten said. "If there's a higher demand there, then Dartmouth Dining Service will sell more of these items."

Currently Collis Cafe provides fair trade coffee and bananas, but as these goods compete directly with commercially manufactured products, sales have not been particularly successful.

Dartmouth Ends Hunger cofounder Zachary Kaufman '08 pointed out the importance of student awareness in boosting fair trade sells.

"One of our focuses is to create a buzz on campus about fair trade," Kaufman said. "We want students to make more conscience decisions when going to the dining hall."

The Fair Trade Halloween reflected recent efforts of Dartmouth Ends Hunger toward promoting more wide-scale awareness on campus.

One of the most profitable endeavors was the Grassroots Soccer tournament on Oct. 9, where hundreds of barefoot students came out to eat and play soccer. The tournament, co-sponsored by Dartmouth Ends Hunger, raised over $3,000 for Grassroots Soccer Aids Prevention Program in Africa.

Dartmouth Ends Hunger plans to sponsor a series of fundraising and awareness events next week centered around Hunger and Homelessness Awareness week.

According to Kaufman, the organization aims to "bring issues of world poverty to the forefront on campus through advocacy and fundraising."

Best known for its two week bean-and-rice-only fast, Dartmouth Ends Hunger also looks to provide international relief and service opportunities through fundraisers and service trips.

"We're looking to take a more active approach this year with events where we can draw in a bit more of the campus," Kaufman said.

Last year Dartmouth Ends Hunger raised approximately $6,000 for sustainable development projects, as well as creating countless internships for students in countries like Rwanda and Nicaragua.

Their global efforts are made possible by the sponsorship of Oxfam America, a national non-profit organization that works alongside college communities to campaign for community development and international relief.

Merten said that after interning for Oxfam over the summer, he gained a better perspective on how to appeal directly to students about global poverty issues that have not received much publicity or media attention.

"The basic idea is that we got to the point where people are sick of talking about global poverty," Merten said. "With two billion people starving each day, we have to break poverty down into smaller things, like fair trade. Fair trade is manageable -- people can wrap their heads around it, and bring these ideas to Dartmouth."

Correction Appended

For the record: A headline on Monday ("DEH connects world hunger, free trade," Oct. 30) incorrectly labeled "fair trade" as "free trade."