MIT tackles hunger
MFWH organizes 12 hr. hunger strike
What’s for lunch? Next Friday, participants in Hunger Strike will be tackling significantly larger-scale hunger issues. The planned 12-hour fast marks the conclusion of Hunger Week, a series of events and fundraisers sponsored by MIT Fighting World Hunger (MFWH). Community members are welcome to commit to the Strike by paying $5 for an event T-shirt.
Ting Mao ’14, founder of MFWH, said Hunger Week’s main goals were to kickoff the club’s year-round commitment to raising hunger awareness. Around campus, the club’s black-and-red posters read, “Are you hungry? One in seven in the world are.”
Hunger Week will feature a canned food drive as well as T-shirt and challah fundraiser sales. MFWH’s operating base will be the Hunger Week booth in Lobby 10, running from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, where students can learn more about world hunger issues and how to volunteer for the cause.
Money raised during the week will be split equally between Pine Street Inn, a local homeless shelter, and Doctors Without Borders for a project specifically targeting malnutrition in the Horn of Africa. Sherry Fu ’14, MFWH club head, emphasized that the club is as committed to relief close to home as it is to visible global causes. She reminds students that they can make an impact on local hunger problems, which are often overshadowed by “bigger” issues.
During Hunger Week, MFWH will also initiate its year-long project of selling nutrition bars from Two Degrees Food, a for-profit company committed to reducing child hunger. Club members will be giving out samples and holding preliminary sales at the Hunger Week booth.. For every bar sold, Two Degrees donates a medically-formulated nutrition pack to a malnourished child. The nutrition packs are manufactured in their distribution area to minimize transport costs and create local jobs. Thus far, the packs have treated severe or chronic malnutrition at 95 percent success rates and are endorsed by the World Health Organization.
Professor Abhijit Banerjee, founder of the Jameel Poverty Action Lab, will give a lecture next Thursday evening on problems regarding conventional thinking about hunger. He will offer solutions to such pitfalls as skepticism about the ability to provide aid and being patronizing toward the ones helped. Banerjee agrees with MFWH’s overall approach to the issue by raising awareness around campus.
“First I think you have [the] responsibility of learning what’s out there — that a huge amount of energy, resources, are wasted because people are … fighting in the wrong direction,” Banerjee said.
Though it is a new club, MFWH has already reached out to collaborate with other campus organizations to spread word about its cause. Challah for Hunger will donate its profits from next week’s sale to MFWH, and Amnesty International will share and promote the Hunger Week booth.
“Our solidarity and teamwork toward a common goal will … generate the potential for a very successful fundraiser,” Fu said.
Off campus, the club has already established an extensive network with local restaurants, non-profit organizations, food companies, and similar groups in other schools, Mao said. Current sponsors include Flour, Clover, J.P. Licks, and Upper Crust, all of which are frequented by MIT students and have the potential to generate good publicity for MFWH.
MFWH is particularly eager to work with nearby group Harvard Hunger Initiative to organize a Hunger Banquet in the spring. At the event, students will be assigned social classes in proportion to the world’s population and eat their class’ respective meals. The banquet offers an opportunity to experience global economic stratification firsthand.
Although MFWH is just one of the large host of student groups that also focus on global development, it has already received positive feedback from the community, noted Emma F. Broderick ’14 after canvassing local businesses. The Upper Crust in Harvard Square, for example, offered to cater MFWH’s screening of Seeds of Hunger next Tuesday for free.
“At MIT we have the technology and the resources to truly make an impact … what we need is the manpower and the energy of the entire student body,” said Laura R. Stilwell ’14, one of the organizers of Hunger Week.
Hunger Week T-shirts and raffle tickets will be on-sale in Lobby 10 starting Monday next week. To help out or learn more about MFWH, email firstname.lastname@example.org.