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Indiana Students Bring Homelessness and Hunger into a New Light

PHOTO: It's National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, and students in Indiana are among those learning more about ways to advocate for and help those in need. Photo courtesy of ardelfin.
PHOTO: It's National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, and students in Indiana are among those learning more about ways to advocate for and help those in need. Photo courtesy of ardelfin.
November 21, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS – Students in Indiana are among those nationwide who are bringing awareness to pressing social issues as part of National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.

An estimated 16 percent of Hoosiers live in poverty, including many who seek shelter or have a difficult time finding food.

At Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), students are exploring the social issues surrounding hunger and homelessness and learning how to get involved on campus and in the community.

Joe Spaulding, a student from the Office of Student Involvement, is the coordinator of this week's activities.

"I think it's important that students and faculty are reminded of the facts behind homelessness and hunger and the different ways that they can get involved to volunteer and participate and be able to see the solution to some of these problems," he says.

Events at IUPUI this week included a food pantry donation drive and viewings of a documentary created about students, faculty and staff who participated in a challenge to live on food stamps for a week.

Seven hundred high schools, colleges, community groups and faith-based groups from cities across the nation are participating in National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.

Spaulding says students are learning that a variety of factors may contribute to homelessness, including inadequate wages, loss of housing or job, a lack of community services or domestic violence.

He says this annual observance seems to open the eyes of many students, including some who may have negative stereotypes about people in poverty.

"They think of a middle-aged guy, scruffy beard, raggy clothes in the cold, huddled up in the blankets begging for money, when in reality there's a multitude of faces of homelessness,” he says. “So what we aim to do is bring poverty and hunger and homelessness into a new light."

According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, homelessness has increased the past few years, and families with children are the largest growing segment of the homeless population.


Mary Kuhlman/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - IN