Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week


Volunteers during Hunger & Homelessness Awarenesss Week.

Amina Murati, Writer

NEIU participated in its annual National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week on Nov. 18 through Nov. 23. While the annual tradition was held, assistant director of Student Leadership Development, Rae Joyce Baguilat added some twists this year to get NEIU students more involved with helping the community.

Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week occurs every year throughout the entire country on the week before Thanksgiving. Baguilat mentioned that every year, students and staff are encouraged to donate clothes, food and toiletries to families in need.

Another annual tradition that takes place at NEIU is the Oxfam banquet. It is a hunger banquet that informs students about world hunger. The Pedroso Center also showed two documentaries describing the struggles of both world hunger and homelessness.

A Thanksgiving Family Dinner sponsorship collection also took place. “Throughout the course of the week we ask faculty, staff and student organizations to sponsor families and donate $40 for their Thanksgiving meal,” said Baguilat.

Every $40 donation is enough to cover the expenses of an entire thanksgiving meal for one family. “We work with A Just Harvest and they give us a list of families who are in need and then we sponsor them,” said Baguilat.

With the donations that the NEIU community collects, families are able to get their food delivered to their homes. For those without a home, the food is dropped off at A Just Harvest where families can enjoy Thanksgiving dinner. A Just Harvest is a soup kitchen that NEIU works with during Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.

They also visited another pantry to develop an understanding of the food distribution process. “This year, we went to the Lakeview pantry. I wanted to show students how it looks like to donate food, where it goes, what it looks like to donate to people,” she explained. Students served food to participating families who were able to pick their meal. It was a way for students to “be able to work with individuals and families in a more humane way, which kind of helped them keep their dignity.”

Baguilat wanted to teach students that homelessness is synonymous with housing insecurity, “Typically, when someone says homeless, they think ‘oh, this is someone who is living on the streets or in their car’ but a lot of the housing insecurity for our students is that they don’t have a secure place to sleep.” One of the aired documentaries described homelessness in our country, depicting people with different stories and how they manage to survive despite not having a permanent residence.

For those who wish to help but are unable to donate, Baguliat offered the option of making hats and scarves in lieu of monetary contributions. The hats and scarves were then distributed by the Student Veterans Club during their annual Hike for the Homeless where they take the clothes that were donated and hike down to the ‘L’ to look for people who are on the streets and in need of warmth.

Hunger and Homelessness Week is a process that shows students how it feels to give back to their community and those in need of a Thanksgiving dinner. With the contributions of the NEIU community, those in a position of need are able to seek community assistance during the holiday season.