Catholic colleges and universities across the nation observed National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, November 15-21, 2016. The week, began by Villanova University in 1975, has since spread to over 700 campuses and communities, becoming the most widely organized hunger and homelessness event of its type nationwide. Here are some examples from Catholic colleges:
Villanova University organized a food drive, a solidarity sleepout, and interfaith vigils on the issue of hunger and homelessness.
At Assumption College, Social Justice Ambassadors assembled “Helping Hands” bags to distribute to individuals on the street, encouraged students in the dining hall to eat what a typical meal would be at a soup kitchen, and also held a solidarity sleepout.
These Catholic colleges and universities, and many others, are reflecting on the Catholic Social Teaching, the option for the poor and vulnerable, creatively tackling direct engagement and awareness in the issues of hunger and homelessness.
Did your campus observe Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week? Share it with us! Email Lexie Bradley.
As the season of Lent approaches, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) invites all to participate – including and especially college students – in the annual CRS Rice Bowl. CRS has developed multiple additional resources tailored to colleges and universities. Among their resources, CRS includes a list of things you can do to participate in the Rice Bowl in various ways:
In Fall 2015, ACCU highlighted several member colleges that participate in the Campus Kitchens Project to fight hunger and decrease food waste. Campus Kitchens Project is offering startup grants to additional institutions this year and have shared the following message with ACCU:
If hunger and food waste are issues in your community and you want to make an impact on both the community need and the waste on campus, consider starting a Campus Kitchen chapter at your school. Campus Kitchen students rescue food that would have gone to waste from their on-campus dining hall cafeterias and use that food to prepare and serve balanced nutritious meals to food insecure residents in their communities.
The deadline to qualify is February 5th. Please visit our grant info page to learn more about this grant competition timeline and guidelines. Schools that qualify will then submit a short video explaining the need in their community and how a Campus Kitchen will meet that need. Selected finalists will compete in a week long voting competition, where at the end of the week, the 3 school’s videos with the highest number of votes will each receive $5,000 to plan and launch their Campus Kitchen!
For Catholics, this phrase has been uttered countless times in the midst of prayer. And yet it rarely sparks a lengthy thought process about actual food. For many people, daily bread is a given, the next meal either waiting at home or picked up at a local restaurant or grocery store. But a vast number of others do worry about where their next meal will come from, both globally as well as here in the United States. The Campus Kitchens Project is one organization that is combating this problem on college campuses throughout the country.
Hunger and Catholic Social Teaching
Hunger and food security are issues that are closely tied to Catholic Social Teaching and its grounding principle: the dignity of every human life. As Catholic Relief Services’ campaign, Catholics Confront Global Poverty states, “The right to life for all persons, based on their identity as precious children of God, means that all people have basic rights to those things that are necessary for them to live and thrive, including the right to food.”
While the Church teaches that access to food is a fundamental right for all, statistics show that many families in the United States struggle with hunger. According to the Bread for the World Institute’s 2014 Hunger Report, the most recent data show that in 2012, nearly 50 million people in the United States resided in households that struggled to put adequate food on the table and approximately 50 percent of children living in the United States will live in a household that relies on government assistance for food by the time they are eighteen. It is evident that the right to food is being treated as a privilege in this country, and a privilege from which many are excluded.
Food justice is also intimately related to care for the environment, as it is a form of natural resource that we, as stewards of creation, are called to respect and share with all. Wasting food is just as egregious as wasting other natural resources, such as energy and water. That is why it is staggering to consider how much food is wasted every day while simultaneously one in six Americans don’t know where their next meal will come from. An estimated 40 percent of food in the United States is wasted every year, which costs Americans more than $165 billion annually and accounts for 25 percent of national methane emissions.
The Campus Kitchens Project (CKP) is helping build a connection between food that is wasted and people who do not have enough to eat. The CKP uses kitchen facilities and student volunteers on college and university campuses to accept, store, repackage, and deliver food to community partners that would normally be thrown away. Students participate in every part of the process, from collecting the food to making the meals, and even dining with those who they serve. CKP is currently at 45 campuses around the country, five of which are ACCU members: Gonzaga University, Marquette University, Saint Louis University, Saint Peter’s University, and Walsh University. Merrimack University will be the sixth ACCU member to start a Campus Kitchen with the launch of their project this fall.
On its website, the CKP defines its mission by three goals: “to strengthen bodies by using existing resources to meet hunger and nutritional needs of our community, to empower minds by providing leadership and service learning opportunities to students,… and to build communities by fostering a new generation of community-minded adults.” At Gonzaga University, this mission has proved to be successful. The campus chapter accepts food from several sources, including the Second Harvest Food Bank and on-campus dining halls, to provide nutritious meals for those who lack food security in the Spokane community. The website of the Gonzaga chapter tracks its effectiveness since beginning in 2005: The effort has recovered 98,362 pounds of food, served 92,297 meals, and logged a collective 15,294 hours.
The Campus Kitchens Project and Catholic Colleges and Universities
The goals of Campus Kitchens complement the social justice mission of Catholic colleges and universities. Emily Paulsen, Campus Kitchens’ representative at Gonzaga University, says that “the [university’s] notion of living a life for others fits right in with the work we do.” CKP’s model helps students live out the tenants of Catholic Social Teaching specific to hunger and food security in practical, transformative ways that benefit the students as much as those who receive a meal. Paulson describes how she has seen CKP affect the students who volunteer with the organization: “I have seen the students actually change their majors to degrees in social work because of their participation with the Campus Kitchen. We run a community dinner every Thursday night in downtown Spokane…The impact of students engaging with clients at the dinner is huge.”
Campus Kitchens’ congruence with the Catholic mission was an important factor to the Merrimack College students who brought the project to their campus, as well. Amy Byrne, one of the students instrumental in the process, describes how Campus Kitchens relates to her school’s Catholic identity: “The Catholic identity at Merrimack is focused on engaging our community through acts of compassion and education. Our Campus Kitchen is a natural extension of our values because it connects so many different partners in our community, and it addresses a number of social justice issues along the way.”
For the Merrimack College students involved in bringing CKP to their campus, the national office offered many resources that eased the process. One example is the $5,000 grant they received after winning an online contest offered by Campus Kitchens. These grants are offered several times throughout the year to help eliminate financial barriers that may arise in starting a school chapter. The Campus Kitchens Project also provides a Campus Kitchens Planner, an online tool that walks users step by step through the process and makes it easy to ask CKP staff for additional guidance. Byrne described how helpful the staff at CKP was, saying, “The head staff of the Campus Kitchens Project organization is so supportive and resourceful. They will do whatever they can to help you overcome obstacles along the way.”
The Campus Kitchens Project is one way of promoting the mission of Catholic higher education. It combats the issue of hunger through environmentally sustainable practices while inspiring leadership and solidarity in students. As Pope Francis said in his homily at the opening Mass of the Caritas Internationalis General Assembly in Rome on May 12, “We ought to set the table for all, and ask that there be a table for all.” The Campus Kitchens Project helps colleges and universities set the table for all in a sustainable, empowering way.
Catherine Coffey is a senior at Boston College and was a Peace and Justice Intern at the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities in summer 2015.
Want to start a Campus Kitchen Project chapter at your college or university? Not sure where to begin? Be sure to catch one of the remaining Fall 2015 information sessions in November and December! More information about how to start a Campus Kitchens chapter at your school, including grant opportunities, can be found on the website, campuskitchens.org.
‘I was hungry and you gave me something to eat.’ The words of Our Lord call to us today, telling us not to turn away, indifferent, when we know our neighbor is hungry.” —Pope Francis
If you need even more incentive to make your way into Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families (WMOF), this is it! If you are attending or thinking about attending, you can help answer Pope Francis’ call to end global hunger by volunteering with CRS Helping Hands—the only service event at the WMOF.
The group will package 200,000 meals that to send to Burkina Faso in West Africa, along with sending funds to centers throughout Burkina Faso that support long-term development projects. Participants of all ages are welcome.
Helping Hands will have 7 shifts available from September 23 to 25 at the Philadelphia Convention Center. You can register for the free event here.
As ACCU member colleges and universities prepare for graduation, commencement speakers prepare inspiring addresses. This year, Catholic colleges and universities have invited a diverse range of commencement speakers, from craft brewers to the first lady of the Republic of Ghana. Below you’ll find a list of colleges and universities that invited speakers engaged in social justice issues.
Cabrini College: The Rev. Daniel Groody, immigration advocate and professor at the University of Notre Dame
College of the Holy Cross: Bryan A. Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, nonprofit organization providing legal representation to indigent defendants and prisoners denied fair and just treatment in the legal system
Gonzaga University and University of San Diego: The Rev. Greg Boyle, Jesuit priest and founder of Homeboy Industries, which provides hope, training, and support to formerly gang-involved and previously incarcerated men and women
Marquette University: Sister Margaret O’Neill, founder of El Centro Arte Para la Paz, which develops and promotes a culture of peace through the arts, creativity, imagination and cultural exchange
Misericordia University: Sister Eileen M. Campbell, former head of the Mercy Volunteer Corps, which invites women and men to service with people who are economically poor or marginalized
Rosemont College of the Holy Child Jesus: Sister Ann M. Durst, founder of Casa Cornelia Law Center, a public interest law firm providing quality pro bono legal services to victims of human and civil rights violations
Saint Mary’s College: Sister Rosemary Connelly, executive director of Misericordia Home in Chicago, which provides a home for 600 children and adults with developmental and physical disabilities
Trocaire College: Myron Glick, founder of Jericho Road Community Health Center, a culturally sensitive medical home, especially for refugee and low-income community members
University of Saint Thomas: Mark Crea, president of Feed My Starving Children, a non-profit Christian organization committed to feeding God’s children hungry in body and spirit
Walsh University: The Rev. Walter S. Moss, project director for the Community Initiative to Reduce Violence, a partnership of law enforcement, social service agencies, and the community to reduce gun violence in the City of Youngstown, Ohio
ACCU just released Update, its Winter 2014 newsletter! You can read it in its entirety here, but be sure to pay special attention to the sections devoted to peace and justice. These highlights include:
Labor: Cost of a Commodity or Commitment to a Covenant? (special feature on CST, mission, and human resources)
Walsh Lends Support to Solving Hunger
Reaching Refugees through Online Education
Rockhurst Symposium Examines the Power of the Francis Papacy
Holy Names University Goes Solar
Institutions Commemorate Anniversary of Jesuit Martyrs in El Salvador
Take to Social Media to bring more attention to this issue! Feel free to retweet and repost these messages from CRS:
Twitter: A meal makes a big difference. It encourages school enrollment, improves attentiveness & nourishes a child. #WFD2014
Twitter: The @USDA funded CRS #FoodForEducation programs are meeting simple needs, but are making a huge difference: http://bit.ly/1sg9I0E. #WFD2014
Facebook: A meal makes a big difference. It encourages school enrollment, improves attentiveness and nourishes a child. The U.S. Department of Agriculture funded CRS Food for Education programs are meeting this simple need in 6 countries and are making a big impact: http://bit.ly/1pjOXuB.
Raise Your Voice! Following Pope Francis’ call, we invite you to get ready to raise your voice on behalf of our brothers and sisters who struggle with hunger once Congress returns to DC following the mid-term elections. It’s likely that two pieces of legislation related to addressing hunger, Agriculture Appropriations and Feed the Future, will be taken up by Congress the week of November 10. Learn about these pieces legislation, and consider advocating for them.
On September 12, 2014, Walsh University president Richard Jusseaume signed the Presidents United to Solve Hunger (PUSH) Agreement, which commits the university to contribute to building food security networks by developing academic engagement and empowering students to advocate and strategically act to end hunger. This pledge reflects the university’s engagement with Catholic Social Teaching – specifically its commitment to an option for the poor and vulnerable. The PUSH Agreement was initially created out of the Hunger Solutions Institute at Auburn University, which has been forming a coalition of university presidents who promise to fight hunger.
CRL’s role in monitoring the use of GMOs in America features prominently in a recent article from US Catholic. CRL executive director Jim Ennis is noted as emphasizing the need to evaluate GMOs through a moral lens, while board member Ron Rosmann, an Iowa farmer, challenges some of the prevailing wisdom about GMOs’ benefits.
As for the Catholic Church, it has remained somewhere in between– recognizing the potential for GMOs to address world hunger, yet reluctant to give full endorsement to their use. CRL will continue to follow the use of GMOs here in America, always emphasizing an approach to agriculture that takes into account the moral dimensions of food production.