Many poor children go to school without breakfast, but studies show that 92 percent of college students—even though most have meal plans—do not eat a morning meal either. Could that food be donated to those in need?
At the Core Commitments conference this spring at Babson College, a BGSU student’s proposal to create a program through which students could designate a portion of their allotted food for local shelters and food pantries, and for universities to donate unused food supplies, was chosen for funding. BGSU will receive $10,000 to pursue implementation of the proposal this fall. Adam Haynes, a senior education major from Marion, advanced the idea for civic engagement that could be replicated at institutions nationwide and then worked with teammates at the conference to develop it.
Six groups, comprising about 30 student leaders from around the country, “rocket pitched” their ideas for social change on college campuses to a panel of judges from a variety of backgrounds in higher education and student affairs, Haynes said. He and his five teammates presented the “End Hunger—Fast!” initiative. His group included two students from Michigan State University, two from Babson and one from Elizabethtown College.
“Giving up a meal to help someone else eat would put a new perspective on hunger,” Haynes said, predicting that one meal-card “swipe” from numerous college students placing money into an account for the hungry would have a significant impact.
“We created a program to attack hunger using a pyramid structure to illustrate how campuses can reduce, reuse and redeem wasted food products which were prepared but never served. The goal is to donate those food items to local shelters, engage students in the process and create a learning opportunity where students, faculty and the community can learn about world hunger and take action.
“We have so much. Most of all we have a college education, and that’s the real riches,” he said.
A reciprocal benefit would be the experience gained by the students running the program, Haynes said. There will be much learning involved, he anticipates, such as health department regulations on storing and transporting hot and cold foods. In addition, a high level of organization will be needed to coordinate the effort. “As a senior, I can start the ball rolling, but it’s going to take other students to sustain it. I hope there would be a sort of board of trustees to keep it going from year to year,” Haynes said. The opportunity would be helpful to fraternities, sororities and other groups that pledge a number of volunteer service hours each year, he added.
“Combining the learning experience with community outreach” came naturally, said Haynes, who drew on his background as a member of BGSU’s Chapman Learning Community. He was also inspired by the BG Experience values-exploration program to become a peer facilitator for two years, which led to his being chosen to attend the conference. Also participating from BGSU was Starmisha Conyers-Page, representing the University’s Core Commitments group.
BGSU is one of 19 participants in the Core Commitments initiative sponsored by the American Association of Colleges and Universities. Part of the AAC&U’s Educating Students for Personal and Social Responsibility mission, Core Commitments seeks to embed personal and social responsibility objectives across campus as key educational outcomes for students, and to measure the impact of campus efforts to foster such learning.
BGSU was selected to participate in the Core Commitments project through a competitive grant process. “Our Core Commitments project was designed to leverage the work already accomplished on this campus through the values initiative and BG Experience program, with the goal of making the development of personal and social responsibility a University-wide commitment,” said Dr. George Agich, who directed the Core Commitments grant.
“The most important thing we came away with from the conference was that there are no limits,” Haynes said. “They told us ‘Don’t let anything stand in your way.’ It’s about taking responsibility.”