Project Cahir to host National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week events
In honor of National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, Project Cahir has collaborated with groups on campus to address a section of the student body that they believe is largely unnoticed: homeless Penn State students.
Project Cahir is Penn State’s 6-year-old student-run initiative addressing problems of poverty through educating students and providing tools for them to impact their local communities.
Min Jung Kim, a junior mechanical engineering major and Cahir corps member, said “student poverty in particular is a phrase that has a huge stigma between students. I think in Project Cahir we try to alleviate that stigma, and also provide the student body with awareness that student poverty exists on this campus and is actually a serious issue that we should focus on.”
The Office of Student Aid communicated to Project Cahir that 30 students have indicated on their FAFSA that they are homeless.
Penn State offers resources to students currently struggling with poverty and homelessness such as financial aid and the Lion’s Pantry, a food pantry relying on donated food and toiletries. Project Cahir has expanded on these programs as part of their Homeless Penn State Students Initiative by funding textbooks for students who cannot afford them. These measures are helpful, but they are not enough according to Project Cahir.
According to Project Cahir adviser Emily Javitt, most people don’t recognize that the hardest part for homeless students is getting the help that they need. “One thing that Project Cahir works for, and the point of National Hunger and Homelessness Week, is to have people recognize how hard it is to ask for help. It is so easy for the people that need that help to slip through the cracks.”
Students can get involved just by giving their time. “It can be five minutes, it can be half an hour, and they can really help that organization. They can really help a lot of people in that time. Even for National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness next week, just showing up and being a presence at these events shows that Penn State as a whole is wiling to fight for these types of things,” Javitt said.
Kim reflected on her experience volunteering at the Lion’s Pantry. “I got to talk to them,” Kim said. “Just asking them ‘hey, how are you doing?’ and recognizing that they’re just students. They are in need but they’re also in the same boat as us.”
National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week runs from Nov. 11-19. The campaign, innovated by the National Coalition for the Homeless, is held annually the week before Thanksgiving. This year, the NCH is focusing their efforts on reforming laws that prevent homeless people from engaging in life-sustaining activities, such as sharing food in public spaces and lying down in parks.
On Wednesday night Project Cahir will host its annual event, Poverty Fight Night, which will feature speakers from the community along with interactive simulations to raise awareness about issues of poverty and housing instability. It will take place at 7:00 p.m. in 302 HUB.