Homeless Outreach & Hunger Prevention Project:
Poverty Awareness Educational Forums and Workshops
Educational events focus on one particular aspect of the problem such as stereotypes, homeless families, homeless who are working and homeless veterans. Some campuses have invited staff from local soup kitchens or shelters to speak at round table discussions or as part of a panel. One example is the “WTF? Where’s The Food? Hunger Workshop.” At this event, participants are challenged to examine their perceptions of hunger and who is hungry. It begins with opening statements from three or four panelists who have experience with issues of hunger. The participants then break into groups and each group addresses a question about hunger with one of the panelists. The groups rotate so that each group has the opportunity to meet with all the panelists.
Community and Campus Drives
Drives are a way to address a need of a community where the rewards can be immediate and long lasting. Students working with NYPIRG see the immediate results of their actions, which fosters a commitment to do more. Drives can be general or geared towards specific needs, such as baby items or books. Students working with NYPIRG have organized drives for school supplies, care packages for survivors of domestic abuse, winter clothing, career clothing, and toiletries, among others.
Many chapters have a group of dedicated students who visit soup kitchens or community centers on a weekly basis. A Volunteer-A-Thon goes a couple of steps further by bringing a larger number of people together for a massive, day-long or week-long effort to visit as many places as possible. The purpose of this event is to introduce new people to the rewards of volunteering.
Miss-A-Meal / Got Points?
Students sometimes have more money on their meal cards than they can use. When the surplus can't be refunded at the end of the year or it expires on a schedule, we are presented with an excellent opportunity to help others. By contacting the school’s food service provider, administrators and local food banks, students are able to collect large quantities of food items in a short amount of time.
“Trick-or-Eat” Food Drive
Each Halloween students working with NYPIRG “trick-or-treat” for canned goods and other non-perishable items to donate to the homeless community. Across the state, students dress up in costume and go door-to-door to educate the community about local hunger while collecting non-perishables. Trick-or-Eat is a fun way to help those in need.
“Jam If You Can”
"Jam If You Can" is a social event, usually featuring music or dance, where admission to the event is canned food or cash donations. The collected food and money is then donated to a local soup kitchen/food pantry.
During a sleep-out, students spend one night outside without modern amenities or much protection from the elements to better understand life on the streets. Sleep-outs can be on campus or in the local community. Guest speakers may be invited from the local community, and attendees are encouraged to share and discuss issues concerning homelessness and poverty.
At this event, participants are randomly assigned a level of poverty or wealth as they enter. That assignment dictates the participant's seat assignments, access to food and more throughout the event. Some participants have full plates of food, while their neighbors have little more that a cup of rice. The event highlights the widespread nature of hunger and the fact that access to basic goods can easily depend on chance.
This interactive event raises awareness about the difficulties facing low-income and homeless individuals when trying to find housing. Each participant receives a profile and then must try to find housing from a variety of different providers, such as high-priced condos, homeless shelters, and public housing.