Students Launch Campaign to Raise Awareness for Hunger and Homelessness in Worcester
The Assumption University Global Humanitarian Relief class is spreading awareness of homelessness, both in Worcester and across the globe, with a socially distanced Walk for the Homeless to raise funds for Worcester Community Fridges.
In Worcester, where 15 percent of families experience food insecurity, increasing access to high quality and fresh food is crucial. For this reason, students in the Global Humanitarian Relief course, in collaboration with the Central Mass Housing Alliance (CMHA), spent five days—from April 25 to 29—educating the campus community on hunger and homelessness. In addition to coordinating an interactive, socially distanced walk, students disseminated information across campus an effort to raise funds for Worcester Community Fridges, an organization that provides fresh and nourishing food for the hungry and homeless in Worcester in five different community refrigerators located throughout the city, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“The students were really inspired by the idea of a community effort to feed the hungry,” explained Professor Smriti Rao, Ph.D., as to how the students chose the local organization. “It was also something we could do in a socially distanced way, and thus appealed very much to the class as a whole.”
“We chose Worcester Community Fridges because it will … help not only the homeless in Worcester, but also those who struggle [to earn] livable wages to feed their families and themselves,” said Shannon Quinlan ’21. “We learned about how over 1,500 people in our community are going to sleep hungry and that] food is a human right and often it has a high price tag. By supporting ‘Woo Fridge,’ we are supporting our community, educating our peers of the food scarcity problem for the vulnerable, and… preventing food from ending up in a landfill.”
Students met on April 28 for a socially distant, interactive five-mile walk around the Assumption University campus in small teams. In addition, they created a website to raise donations for Woo Fridges. Hannah White ’21, helped manage the donations for Worcester Community Fridges. “Food insecurity impacts not just people already experiencing homelessness, but also those who are in danger of becoming homeless,” she said. “What's so cool about Woo Fridges is that it helps community members with an abundance of resources support community members who don't have resources. It's not charity, it is mutual aid.”
Quinlan was also involved in the fundraising aspect of the class’s project, setting up the donation page in support of Woo Fridges. She said the class was able to raise more than double its original goal, and has raised more than $2,000 for the community organization.
“We are going to use this money to go grocery shopping for nutritional, easily accessible foods to fill the refrigerators,” she said, adding that the group will carefully consider things like dietary restrictions, foods that don't require a kitchen to cook or spoil too quickly, and items that can be easily carried. “The remainder of the money will be saved and used to fill the fridges in the future or donated to Woo Fridge for repairs to their existing fridges, to purchase more refrigerators, etc.”
This is the third Global Humanitarian Relief Services class Quinlan has taken (it is offered every semester with a different community service-learning element) because she finds them so fulfilling. “I love the work we have been able to accomplish,” said Quinlan, who is a recipient of one of the University’s Light the Way Scholarships awarded to incoming students who utilize their abilities to Light the Way for others. “This class is extremely rewarding and eye-opening to the problems faced in our country, community and even on campus.”
To donate to the Assumption class project, visit https://givebutter.com/auwoofridge.
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