Every two and a half seconds, a child under the age of 5 dies from hunger-related causes. That is 34,000 children a day, (approximately two times the number of students at St. John’s). As startling statistics reveal a national crisis, St. John’s university students take action.
In an attempt to make students aware of the millions of people who suffer from chronic hunger, Campus Ministry is sponsoring activities such as canned food drives, casserole donation days, a sleep out and a sandwich drive throughout November, Hunger Awareness Month.
Although the main goal of Hunger Awareness Month is to help provide food for the hungry, another issue is to raise consciousness in all areas of need.
“It is important to remember that homelessness and hunger go hand in hand and although a lot of what we do is helping the hungry, there is another issue at stake, which is to make sure people have adequate housing,” Sr. Catherine Salani, campus minister for education and justice said. To be in solidarity with the homeless, Campus ministry has added a sleep out to the existing events that take place during the month. The purpose of the sleep out is to give students a first-hand experience with homelessness.
“Students basically sleep out in the student lounge without beds and rough it for the night,” Salani said. Campus Ministry is also sponsoring a banquet on Friday at 11:15 and 12:20. Several classes have been invited to the event that will take place in Council Hall.
The purpose of the banquet is to highlight the unequal distribution of resources found throughout the world today. As students file in, they will be handed one of three colors. Each color represents a portion of society and the amount of resources they consume. Although each student will receive food, the amount will be different depending on what portion of the world they represent.
After the banquet, students will walk around the campus distributing brochures containing information about Hunger Awareness month.
One of the better-known events proved to be a success as university students gathered in Marillac Terrace for the sandwich drive. About 200 bagged lunches were made and distributed to those in need. The brown paper bags consisted of a sandwich, drink, snack and candy.
The group took the train into Manhattan and distributed the sandwich bags to needy individuals on street corners, homeless shelters and the Port Authority. “Many are overwhelmed by the ills of society and think they are powerless. Through the sandwich drive and other events sponsored by Campus Ministry, although small, a difference is made,” Thomas Crimmons, a senior education major, said.