For more than three decades, Loyola has hosted Hunger Week. The week is meant to do more than just raise awareness about hunger and homelessness: it is an opportunity for Loyola students to become personally engaged in the plight of those who are less fortunate.
The 32nd annual Hunger Week kicked off on Friday, Oct. 21, and will run through Monday, Oct. 31. The mission of this year’s Hunger Week asks Loyolans to “serve with your substance, not your excess.”
“[The theme] is to make students understand that it can be easy to donate money to a just cause, but it is more meaningful when we give of ourselves,” Ann Marie Grimberg, a University Ministry chaplain, said. “It becomes more personal.”
Hunger Week is a project of University Ministry but relies on the participation of university departments and student organizations. The Turkish Intercultural Club, for example, held a baklava sale in Damen Hall on Oct. 21.
“We’re doing this because it’s a great thing to serve,” Turkish Club President Fatih Takmakli said. “It’s important to realize that we have to think about the poor people in the world.”
Students are motivated to participate in this week’s events for a variety of reasons. Loyola alum Kyle Oweimrin recalled his participation in Hunger Week when he was a resident assistant in Mertz Hall.
“I went around the entire building [during the week] carrying a bucket for donations. Since I had the keys to all the floors, I would randomly stop in and ask people to donate,” Oweimrin said. “I wouldn’t leave until they gave me at least a few pennies. I raised $600.”
Oweimrin, who ran in the 5K Run/Walk this year, said Hunger Week was “so much fun back then” that he decided to do anything he could to help this year.
Junior Catherine Hedgebeth is one of six students on the Hunger Week Planning Committee who began organizing Hunger Week events in January.
“I wanted to help organize Hunger Week this year because I was amazed at what we could do from being a participant last year,” Hedgebeth said. “I feel pretty good about the week’s events. We’ve done what we can to raise awareness; it’s just up to the community now to take initiative.”
Oct. 22’s 5K Run/Walk started at 9 a.m. Volunteers directed and cheered runners along the course that led participants by the lakefront onto Sheridan Road, to Loyola Avenue and back up to the Crown Center.
Senior Ann White noted how events such as these recognize the importance ofhelping others.
“I think that Hunger Week and the 5K Run/Walk are both good examples of the Jesuit philosophy [in] practice,” White said.
Students are coming together to support the 5K Run/Walk by joining with their friends to particpate.
“I think it’s great that University Ministry has taken this under its wing,” senior Laura Jeu said. “My friends and I decided to run together before we became busy with exams and school this week. It’s become somewhat of a ritual.”
After the 5K Run/Walk it drizzled throughout the day, but the Sleep-Out still drew a crowd of approximately 30 students later that evening. Students slept outside Mertz Hall around the St. Ignatius statue as a way to understanding homelessness.
“The purpose of the Sleep-Out is to experience what it is like to be homeless [and] to be out on the streets and have nothing,” Nicole Chmela, University Ministry’s main coordinator of Hunger Week, said. “[The event gives] students a chance to get firsthand experience.”
Greg Pritchett, a distribution manager for StreetWise, arrived at 11 p.m. to share his personal story of homelessness.
“One day, I woke up and everything I thought was mandatory in life – a job, family, money – was gone because I was only focused on getting high,” Pritchett said.
“It was like a wake-up call to me, making me feel like I should do something meaningful with my life,” Pritchett said. “Because of that day, I made the hardest decision of my life: I went to get help.”
Pritchett was impressed that students were willing to sleep outside in order to raise awareness.
“One common misconception about [the issue] is that [homelessness] only happens to bums or druggies,” Pritchett said. “Loyola students know that this isn’t true, which makes this event even more important.” Sophomore Dipti Patel said the Sleep-Out emphasized the force of Hunger Week.
“It really forces people to recognize hunger as a prominent issue in our society and in our world,” Patel said. “By having it in such a common place such as the St. Ignatius statue, we are bringing the issue closer to home.”
Junior Rebecca Grabski agreed that the Sleep-Out raised hunger awareness.
“By sleeping outside, we are trying to understand what a homeless person experiences for just one day. But we know that we’re going to go back into our dorms the next day, take warm showers, eat and have a bed to sleep on,” Grabski said. “Can we ever really know what a homeless person goes through without actually being homeless?”
The Social Class Dinner, sponsored by Loyola 4 Chicago, was held in McCormick Lounge on Oct. 24. Participants ate meals proportional to how different people around Chicago eat.
The evening began with students being assigned to upper, middle or lower classes. Each respective group was encouraged to sit with each other while sharing a meal and reflecting.
“What I like about this dinner is that every class gets a different meal,” junior Mary DeWaters said. “The upper class gets to eat chicken and cake, the middle class gets macaroni and the lower class gets a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It really makes you think about how the world eats.”
According to DeWaters, the dinner forced students to confront the food inequalities of the world.
“We often blind ourselves to what is right in front of us,” DeWaters said. “Even on a daily basis, we walk past someone who is homeless and we don’t stop to think about it.”
The newest addition to Hunger Week, a dance marathon and concert, will begin on Friday, Oct. 28. The event includes live bands, dancing, food, games and prizes in Halas from 8 p.m. on Friday to 6 a.m. on Saturday morning. Dancers will stand for the entire 10 hour event to represent solidarity with the hungry.
The bands scheduled to perform include Inspector Bowl, City on Film, Spider Language, Tilted Room, UV Hour and 1 Pound Burrito.
“I think that [the dance concert] is a creative means of raising money for a worthy cause while engaging the student body,” junior Dan Fraczkowski said.
Proceeds from all events will go to local, national and global agencies such as The Night Ministry, America’s Second Harvest and OxFam International.]]>