HUNGER and HOMELESSNESS

They arrive at school with food in their stomachs or the opportunity to grab a morning snack in the caf before first bell. After school, they charge to the nearest food mart or Dunkin Donuts for any variety of food as they head to their after school activity. Being hungry for more than a few hours is not their reality. Hunger is a reality, however, for people in their communities and around the globe. And if you are a Bishop, there is an effort in classrooms all year to sensitize our students to the growing hunger crisis.

Facilitated by our Campus Ministry program, Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week is a thoughtful, creative and active week of “breaking prejudice and the stereotypes people have with those who are homeless and those who live in poverty. Additionally, the program raises awareness about the causes of poverty and homelessness in our community, in our country and in the world.” Throughout the week, a food drive collection, benefiting Catholic Charities Food Pantry is initiated and fund raising for the School on Wheels in East Bridgewater. Those endeavors are tangible works. Meanwhile, the cerebral exercises begin. Middle Schoolers participate in a poverty simulation. Students were asked to decide what possessions they had that they saw as most important to their lives and what possessions were least important to own. Students were then to imagine themselves as homeless. Could any of their important possessions be obtainable with only a dollar in their pocket? What food would they purchase for themselves, in order to survive, if they only had a dollar? The stark reality of existing on only snack items, lacking any nutritional value, was jarring. The lesson ended with students watching the film, “Living on a Dollar” which traces the journey of 4 American teens trying to live on a dollar a day for 56 days in Guatemala.

Upper classmen participated in a Hunger Banquet, produced by Oxfam. As explained by Mr. David Gilpin, Director of Campus Ministry, “the banquet acts as a metaphor for how there is an uneven distribution of food and other resources in the world. Students chose at random to identify as a member in a 1st, 2nd or 3rd World Country. In each grouping, there were resources at their disposal from abundant to meager. During the banquet, students were presented information about poverty around the world and what it means to live in a specific “world”. The classes also discussed that each world is not exclusive and talked about poverty in the US and the power of advocacy to make a positive impact.”

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To say that students were given a “full plate” to digest sounds clicheis but it is a cliché that does justice to what the week yielded for our Archbishop Williams community and communities near and far.