The FoodFast event at Cabrini University was once again a success this semester.
The Cabrini community was brought together to connect with one another and spread awareness about global hunger, poverty and food security. During this event, students and staff learned about how everyone is connected to the cycle of world hunger.
Catholic Relief Services’ (CRS) global ambassadors have held this event annually. Meeting the basic needs and advocating solutions, CRS protects, defends and advances human life around the world. In short, they serve everyone based on their needs. Last year the organization served about 130 million people in more than 100 countries on five continents.
The reason the event was hosted in April this semester was because Ramadan and Lent are around this time of year.
CRS advocates events to help spread awareness on issues like chronic hunger by providing links on their website for people to donate to a Lent program called Rice Bowl. The donations go towards ending global hunger. Furthermore, CRS’ Saving and Internal Lending Communities Microfinance program helps families save what they can from their earnings.
“I think that it’s very important to know that there are people struggling all over the world, like they don’t have money. And they have to live with very low income,” Jose Castro, sophomore international business major, said.
The event had three different groups of social classes; high income, middle income and low income.
“We’re split in three groups and each group has their own status. There’s the high income class, the middle income class and the low income class. Right now, we were promoted and that’s why we’re at this table. We were talking about some of the questions related to middle class and actually, I was in the low class section of the three groups. I was promoted to this table which is middle class,” Castro said.
CRS is shedding light on global food insecurities by having people learn about the social classes and communities in different countries. For example, in Bangladesh many people eat bowls of rice everyday.
He said he believes the ultimate goal is to learn about the struggles people are having with food insecurities.
Modest Donacien, freshman music and theology major, said, “Being at this event, it’s great. I’m a refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, I lived in Tanzania. Seeing the presentation, how people access water and food, it’s the same lifestyle I’ve lived.”
Thinking about his own community and others suffering from chronic hunger, he feels it’s his responsibility to give back to them Donacien said. The event provided food that each social class would get based on their income.
Donacien said the presentation of Rwanda made him think about his mother who died in the refugee camp.
“I think the presentation of Rwanda, you know, it was good but at the same time I thought about my parent that actually died in the refugee camp. And so, when I was seeing the presentation I was thinking about it because I’ve never been to my mom’s grave, like I never went to the service. I stayed at the house,” he said.
He was scared when his mother passed which is why he remained at home. Something he enjoyed about the event was being able to share the experience with others.
Living the life of struggling with chronic hunger before himself, Donacien cares about people and their well-being. He went to the event to get information about different parts of the world going through food insecurities.
Donacien said a purpose of the event was to show those who are privileged to have food on the table, that there’s other people that don’t have or have limited access to it, even in the United States. Similar to how CRS advocates, showing those who don’t struggle from it, spreading awareness may prompt them to advocate.
“This event I got to see and hear from other students about poverty and hunger. And I got to understand how people are thinking about it now that we all came after COVID-19, and understanding what it’s really like to stay at home,” Bushra Islam, senior business management major with a HR management minor and president of the Muslim Student Association (MSA), said.
People are living three times as much worse than they were already, Islam said during the event. Those that attended discussed how they perceive poverty and hunger.
“I feel like it gave a better view to people of what it means to live in poverty, and what it means to live in a lifestyle where you’re always hungry,” she said.
Events like FoodFast encourage people to have conversations they wouldn’t normally have to bring attention to things going on around the world. Having events like it is beneficial to the knowledge of others.
“The ultimate goal is to spread information to educate students and staff. Of course, Cabrini is known to live with purpose, so our purpose is to educate students and pass out information that we know rather than keeping it for ourselves,” Bushra said.
She said FoodFast is an event that has valuable information that can be shared to others. People learn when going to these kinds of events.
The biggest impact on those that experience chronic hunger is not having food on the table. Long lasting effects specifically on children, may come as a result.
“Malnutrition, being able to grow as one of the ambassadors said that children who for the first 1000 days if they are not fed, they can’t develop as a person, as a child. Development is very key for our world today. Having lost so many lives because of COVID-19, now more than ever making sure that every child is fed and has enough nutrition in their diet to survive the next day is very important,” she said.
Chronic hunger is a frightening issue that has caused hunger conflicts. Worrying about when the next meal will be can lead to stressful times throughout one’s life, and can affect people mentally and also physically as they bear the brunt of these difficult circumstances.