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Ohio Students Focus on Hunger and Homelessness

PHOTO: An estimated 14 percent of Ohioans live in poverty, and students in the state are learning more about the issue and giving back to their communities as part of National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. Photo credit: Deborah C. Smith
PHOTO: An estimated 14 percent of Ohioans live in poverty, and students in the state are learning more about the issue and giving back to their communities as part of National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. Photo credit: Deborah C. Smith
November 21, 2013

COLUMBUS, Ohio - An estimated 14 percent of Ohioans live in poverty. As part of National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, students in the state are learning more about this issue and giving back to their communities.

Claudia Guzman organized this year's events at the University of Dayton. They included guest speakers and students serving meals to those in need, as well as assembling food packages to send to hungry children abroad.

"These events really help show that the people who go hungry, the people who live on the streets, are really our brothers and sisters. We are called to help them and to serve them as brothers and sisters that we are," said Guzman, a graduate assistant for the university's Center for Social Concern.

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

At Oberlin College, students held discussions on the social and policy matters affecting poverty. Alexander Berger, senior advocate liaison with OhioPIRG, Oberlin Chapter, said they viewed documentaries on the issues that really opened up many students' eyes.

"Obesity and poverty and hunger are actually all linked," Berger said "It's an epidemic that's affecting children really strongly, and affecting the country's culture around providing food aid and accepting food aid."

Berger said the campus hunger and homeless campaign efforts will extend past this week's observance. They will include volunteers who help homeless families in the area, and educational opportunities to teach students how to advocate and give back on the local level.

The students involved in Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week are excited to learn more about what is going on in their own community and abroad, Guzman added, and to learn ways to give back.

"They care about these issues and want to help raise awareness, and we want to serve, we want to do something to help end hunger and homelessness. The students are very passionate, and they're very eager to help," Guzman said.

In Ohio, homelessness increased by 7 percent between 2011 and 2012, and the state was recently ranked 10th worst in the nation for food insecurity.

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