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Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week: How Can We Make Our Campuses More Aware?

The Swipe Out Hunger National Team has been joined by our Ithaca College Student Leader, Unagh Frank, during her final Fall semester as our Media & Innovation Fellow. In addition to spearheading Swipe Out Hunger on her campus, she was pivotal in creating a series of events during last year’s Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week at Ithaca College. We asked her to share with our community about what made it so successful.

Spreading a message is hard– especially if you are a small team or just one person! When determining how to leverage an important week such as Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week (November 16 – 24, 2019), it is necessary to think about who you can connect with and bring on board to plan your efforts.

Partnerships, partnerships, partnerships

In 2018, I was facilitating Swipe Out Hunger at Ithaca College. Throughout our Swipe Drives, I created partnerships with volunteers who were involved in a variety of other organizations that were doing amazing things on- and off-campus. Through our collaborations, we all supported each other through our respective organizations’ events and initiatives, including during Hunger and Homelessness Awareness week. Towards the end of the week, we partnered with five student organizations, including Swipe Out Hunger, Food For Thought, Challah For Hunger, Poor People’s Campaign and Ithaca College Environmentalists, to host  a panel discussion focused on food insecurity on campus and in the community.

Ithaca College students gathered for events on campus during Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week in 2018.

To plan this event, we received a $250 grant from our Student Collaboration and Innovation Fund supported by Student Affairs and Campus Life, which helped us pay for food, our speaker, Lyndsey Lyman from the Local Food Bank, the Food Bank of the Southern Tier, and printing materials. We also registered the event with Ithaca’s Student Leadership Institute, which allowed students to receive credit towards their degree for attending the event.

Simulations can drive home an issue

When students walked into the room, similar to Oxfam’s Hunger Banquet style, we asked them to be a part of a simulation where each person received a described family situation. Each student was asked to use what income they had been assigned to buy groceries for their household for the week. 

Following this simulation, several speakers took to the stage, including a student who spoke about their experiences with food insecurity and a representative from the local food bank who discussed their mission and efforts. 

By far, our collaborations with peers from other student organizations and incentivizing students to come to our event made our Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week activities a huge success. Most importantly, it brought in a lot of new faces that otherwise may have not come out on that cold night.

Partnering with passionate people is a key to success, so what better way to come together than a collaborative event? This Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, check out some ways to run a great event that brings out many people who are ready to listen.

Tips for 2019 Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week

Everyone needs food… especially free food.

Secure funding for the event–even a little bit goes a long way! Try to get warm food from a local delicacy: we got Indian food from a local restaurant!

Set your outcome goals for the event.

What makes this event different than other events? Our goal was to have students leave the event feeling like they learned something new and that they could take action and make a difference!

Have a Call to Action!

A strong event is one that has people walking away feeling like they learned something new and that they have the ability to make an impact moving forward. Bring in new perspectives and present information in a new and interesting way. We tried to reach this mentality with our simulation at the beginning of the event to get people’s minds wrapped around different ideas and learning about alternative perspectives! 

Collaborate with like-minded people.

Passionate people inspire other passionate people! The collaboration with all the organizations brought a wide variety of people, all passionate and ready to share their values to inspire others.

If possible, incentivize!

Having an incentive to attend– whether the event is worth extra credit, community service hours, engagement hours, etc.– will bring a wide variety of people to the conversation, who otherwise may not have come out.

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