by Diane VanDyke
Approximately 14 percent of American households, 1 out of 7, have food insecurity or difficulty providing enough food for all family members, according to a report released by the United States Department of Agriculture in September 2014. Locally in Montgomery County, 11 percent (approximately 88,463) of all residents and 14 percent of the County’s children in 2013 experienced food insecurity, according to the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger.
To increase campus and community awareness of this situation, Montgomery County Community College faculty will be discussing hunger during a special panel forum, “Hunger in the United States and Locally,” Oct. 27, at 12:30 p.m., in the Science Center Theater at the Central Campus, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell. The program will be simulcast to the College’s West Campus in North Hall room 209, 16 High St., Pottstown. The event is free and open to the public at both campuses; the community is invited to join in the discussion.
The panel discussion will be moderated by Anthropology Instructor Dr. Lynn Swartley O’Brien and will include the following participants and topics:
Associate Professor of Psychology Dr. Deborah Greenspan will discuss the psychology of eating (not enough and too much), as well as the long-term consequences of hunger on psychological development and why people are often driven to consume unhealthy food products.
Instructor of Hospitality Management James Lynch will discuss his work on the front lines of hunger, as a Senior Manager and Executive Chef for Philabundance, as well as promoting hunger relief through education and volunteerism.
Faculty Diversity Fellow in Human Services Natasha Patterson will discuss obesity and hunger. Obesity is an issue of malnutrition when at risk populations consume foods high in calories and low in nutrients. Obesity trends are directly linked to food insecurity and poverty in addition to the high rates of diabetes and other chronic illnesses.
Assistant Professor of Geography Professor Samuel Wallace will discuss the geography of hunger in the U.S., looking at a recent study of the percent of the U.S. population (particularly children) at risk of hunger, and identifying geographic patterns at the county and the congressional district scales. These patterns identify factors driving childhood risks and the possibilities for policy level action.
In addition to increasing awareness, the College has taken action during the past year to help support its students who face food insecurity. Last spring, the College piloted a Stock Up for Success Program that enables students to pick up donated, non-perishable breakfast, lunch and snack items in the Student Success Centers. The College’s Office of Student Leadership and Involvement spearheaded and manages the initiative.
During Nov. 16-22, the College will hold a “Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week,” during which the campus community in encouraged to donate food items, as well as gently used coats. On Saturday, Nov. 22, the Mustangs Men’s basketball team will hold its annual “Hoops for Hunger” game to collect food items.
The College also welcomes support from the community. Non-perishable food donations–including microwavable lunches, to-go cups of peanut butter and tuna, mini cereal boxes, granola, Pop Tarts, instant oatmeal cups, trail mix, fruit cups, mini raisin boxes, juice boxes and mini bottles of water–can be brought to the Student Leadership and Involvement Offices, located in College Hall 103 at the Central Campus, and in South Hall 106 at the West Campus.
Monetary donations can also be made to the Stock Up For Success Program through the College’s Foundation. Visit mc3.edu/giving, select “Give Now” and choose “Stock Up Success Food Pantry” from the drop down menu. Donations by check should be made out to “MCCC Foundation” with “Stock Up for Success” written in the memo line and mailed to MCCC Foundation, 340 DeKalb Pike, East House, Blue Bell, PA 19422.
The discussion panel is part of the College’s 50th anniversary events and relates to President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty legislation, which he introduced in January 1964, the same year the College was established. Poverty is the principal cause of hunger.