Hunger Week ends, problem still persists

Although the 25th Annual Hunger Week comes to a close tomorrow, world hunger will remain a serious problem.Across the globe, more than 850 million people suffer from hunger, which charitable organization Bread for the World refers to as “the most extreme form of poverty.”

The United Nations’ food aid agency, the World Food Programme, reports hunger and malnutrition is the No. 1 risk to health worldwide – greater than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.

With the issues of hunger and hunger relief affecting so many people around the world, many in the TCU Community – and possibly North Texas – might not realize hunger is a problem that hits close to home. According to Bread for the World’s Web site, 35.1 million people in the United States alone live in households that experience hunger or the risk of hunger.

“In a country where we have so much, we tend to not see this problem in our own society,” said Courtney Goode, a junior international economics major.

Bo Soderbergh, a TCU alumnus and executive director of the Tarrant Area Food Bank, said he shared Goode’s sentiment, saying hunger in the North Texas region was “one of those problems that is invisible if you don’t look for it.”

Despite being “invisible” to some, Goode said, since coming to TCU, she had noticed hunger awareness has become a big deal on campus.

The Rev. Angela Kaufman, minister to the university, also said she had noticed a renewed energy to raise awareness about hunger relief over the past few years.

“When I came back to TCU in 2004, it was just a handful of students,” Kaufman said. “Now there is a network of students, faculty and staff, along with organizations throughout campus, who are dedicated to helping raise hunger awareness.”

Events, such as Hunger Week, look to bring the global issue of hunger down to a local level.

“One of the major things that we do is educate about local hunger and bring this issue down to the area and the work that the Tarrant Area Food Bank does,” said Kelly Rand, student coordinator for Hunger Week.

According to the TAFB Web site, the food bank works to eliminate hunger in 13 counties, transferring millions of pounds of food each year to its network of 300 partner charities.

Soderbergh said the TAFB and TCU have had a long-standing relationship.

“We have worked together in a variety of ways,” Soderbergh said. “Lots of volunteers from TCU help sort and pack food, and nutrition students work with our education program.”

Rand, a junior social work and religion major, said if students take a look at the issues around them, like hunger, then it is easier to connect to such an overwhelming problem.

Kaufman stressed that getting those in the TCU community involved could have a huge impact in the fight against hunger.

“It’s not just about giving people cans, and it’s not just about getting people food,” Kaufman said. “It’s about actually changing the system and making it a more just and fair system. It’s not just about the micro level, it’s about the macro level.”

Rand said hunger in the North Texas region is a reality that must be dealt with.

“It’s our state and it’s also where our voting responsibility is,” Rand said. “It’s also where our civic responsibility is.”

The Heal Hunger Campaign, which is aimed at helping to inform students about a different issue of hunger each month, also works with international organizations such as the One Campaign and Heifer International, a non-profit organization that provides livestock and training to farmers and communities worldwide.

Another important reason hunger is an issue students should get involved in is the inability of governments alone to shoulder the burden – and cost – of providing aid to those in need.

According to a March 22 article in The New York Times, in the United States, “rising shipping, transportation and logistical costs have been taking an ever larger share out of the $2 billion in annual spending on food aid in recent years.”

With the U.S. government – and other governments around the world, as well – unable to handle such enormous costs on their own while still providing the amount of food necessary to fight hunger, Kaufman said it’s important for students to get out and help on their own and not just during events such as Hunger Week.

“The question is to figure out what your passion is as a student and human being and then run with that,” Kaufman said. “That’s step number one. Everyone can help make a difference in helping to create a world where everyone’s fed or fed enough.”

Soderbergh said students could get involved simply by donating their time.