The summer is a time of experience for all university students. Some would say that it is an extension of them as a person; others would say it is a time to do something that is out of their comfort zone, few would say that it was a waste of time. Personally, summer is a wonderful time to pursue an opportunity that I am not able to partake in due to attending UConn during the school year.
In the Spring 2015 semester, I was taking Food Policy with ARE Professor Adam Rabinowitz. One day he mentioned an opportunity to work with an organization called End Hunger CT! as an AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associate. I leapt at the opportunity to try something new, and in this case it was hunger related issues. Additionally the job would have me working out of New Haven and Hartford which sparked my interest due to how unfamiliar these places were.
I worked with End Hunger CT! to expand the Summer Meals Program in New Haven, especially the newly developed mobile meal sites to reach as many children as possible. In the issue of food, access tends to be a huge factor in feeding people. Not everyone has a car, some people are located in “food deserts”, getting to healthy, nutritious food is not accessible for everyone. So the New Haven Public Schools Food Services along with a variety of partners, decided to bring the food to areas where concentrations of kids could access a healthy breakfast, lunch or supper throughout the school-less summer. It was successful and the entire summer experience had a lasting impact on me.
Many of us take food for granted. It is a daily normality, eating three (or more) meals a day. Whether it is swiping into a dining hall to experience an unlimited banquet of food or cooking in our own homes, food is not something we worry about. This summer was an eye opening experience for me. Not only the time commitment of being in AmeriCorps VISTA but also the effect that not having food would have on a person’s day. Imagine trying to study for finals without food in your stomach, playing intramural sports while craving sustenance. Now picture a child trying to learn while hungry. How productive could they be, how much would they enjoy doing work, would they be able to learn while hungry?
If this post has sparked your interest, go to http://www.endhungerct.org/ to learn more about Hunger in Connecticut and check out the Oxfam America Hunger Banquet which will happen next semester and will be sponsored by The College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources College Ambassadors.