J Term Students Work Against Community Hunger

March 10, 2011

During January Term, Hartwick College's "Life's Choices: Ethical Issues in Healthcare" class explored ethical issues related to hunger in America.

Approximately 14.6 percent of all Americans go to bed hungry each night due to insufficient resources for food. As part of an attempt to help rectify this issue locally, the class worked at the Lord's Table on Elm Street in Oneonta and held a lasagna dinner at Laurens Presbyterian Church for $1 per plate.

The Laurens community is a low-income area, with the average income estimated in 2009 to be about $35,000, compared to average New York incomes of $55,000. A second example of the economic state of the Town of Laurens is the percentage of students eligible for reduced/free school lunches, which in Laurens is 54 percent and in Oneonta is 27.9 percent.

All students enrolled in the course--Amber Calhoun '14, Hannah Estes '13, Gabi Ferraro '14, Kathryn Friedel '14, Halley Gartner '14, Kiara Goldwag '14, Kelly Haley '14, Steven Katz '14, Anthony Keane '14, Clare Nelson '14, Trey Ostrom '14, Katie Spass '14, and Kristen Whitten '14--worked to solve the many issues of organizing a community dinner, including advertising, fundraising, obtaining recipes, determining quantities, cooking, serving, and cleaning up. The 13 classmates went to a variety of local businesses, including Price Chopper, Dunkin Donuts, Hannaford, Applebee's, Sal's Pizzeria, Freihofer's, Neptune Diner, and JP's Pizzeria, gathering the necessary ingredients and charitable donations to create a delicious, successful dinner.

The businesses donated the following items:

  • Walmart: $1,000 grant
  • Army: clothing (21 beanie hats, 21 sunglasses, 2 small backpacks, 10 drawstring bags)
  • Price Chopper: $10 gift certificate
  • Applebee's: $10 gift certificate
  • The Neptune Diner: $20 gift certificate
  • Dunkin Donuts: mug and coffee bag
  • JP's: $75
  • Freihofer's: 256 rolls
  • Hannaford: Lettuce, tomatoes, carrots
  • Sal's: 15 quarts of sauce
  • The Commons (Aramark): pans, butter, Pam

The Walmart Foundation currently supports initiatives in education that address hunger relief. As part of Walmart's commitment to support programs/initiatives that help to alleviate or reduce the number of Americans--one out of six--who question where their next meal will come from, Walmart of Monticello donated a generous $1,000 grant to the classes' efforts to address the issue of local hunger.

Several businesses and organizations also donated door prizes such as Army drawstring bags, hats, small backpacks, sunglasses, a Dunkin Donuts coffee mug, and gift cards to Applebee's and The Neptune Diner.

On January 28, the night of the lasagna dinner, the class served 148 Laurens residents. Guests at the dinner proclaimed their efforts a smashing success.

After the dinner, the students decided to donate all of the money that was left over to the Laurens Presbyterian Church to support the food bank, local mission fund, and the emergency fund, which support the Laurens community with the cost of heat, food, and other emergency supplies on an as-needed basis. The financial donation given to Reverend Harry Myers was $1,482.35.

Remaining food--including lasagna, salad, and rolls--was donated to Saturday's Bread on the morning following the dinner to be used for take-outs that weekend. Unused lasagna noodles, butter, and tomato sauce were given to the Laurens Food Bank.

In addition to attempting to make a small mark on the local hunger issue, each student formulated plans to solve Hunger in America. Several examples of solutions ranged from educational programs for school-age students, to the use of genetically modified crops, to ideas to decrease dependency on food support programs, to grants for the creation of community gardens.

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Hartwick College is a private liberal arts and sciences college of 1,500 students, located in Oneonta, NY, in the northern foothills of the Catskill Mountains. Hartwick's expansive curriculum emphasizes a uniquely experiential approach to the liberal arts. Through personalized teaching, collaborative research, a unique January Term, a wide range of internships, and vast study-abroad opportunities, Hartwick ensures that students are prepared for the world ahead. A Three-Year Bachelor's Degree Program and strong financial aid and scholarship offerings keep a Hartwick education affordable.

Contact: Christopher Lott
Phone: 607-431-4030