Sociology class gets involved in movement against hunger


An Indiana University of Pennsylvania sociology class is partnering with the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and Zion Lutheran Church to host “Hunger Awareness Week” Monday through Friday.

The Sociology of Family class, taught by assistant professor Dr. Melissa Swauger, was not aware of the extent of hunger and food insecurity issues in the county until its lessons and was compelled to take action, according to Swauger.

Amber Book from the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank told the students in the class about some of the local hunger issues as well as awareness-raising projects done at other universities, Swauger said.

“They decided to split into two groups,” she said. “One would focus on creating a Hunger Awareness Week while the other would focus on the seedling distribution project.”

The class has organized a series of events throughout the week.

All week, nonperishable food items can be dropped off in the sociology department office at 102 McElhaney Hall.

A film screening of “A Place at the Table” will start at 6 p.m. Wednesday and will last until 8 p.m. in the Hadley Union Building’s Delaware Room. “A Place at the Table” tells the stories of three Americans who maintain their dignity even as they struggle just to eat, according to IUP’s Hunger Awareness Week website.

Staff from the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank will hold a Poverty Simulation from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. in the HUB Ohio Room on Friday.

It will focus on the day-to-day realities of life with a shortage of money and an abundance of stress. The simulation will have participants role-playing the lives of low-income families, from single parents trying to care for their children to senior citizens trying to maintain their self-sufficiency on Social Security, says the Hunger Awareness Week website.

Students can bring nonperishable food items or toiletries to these events.

“The central goal is to raise awareness of hunger insecurity in Indiana County and compel IUP and Indiana community members to take action to eradicate hunger,” Swauger said.

Donations will benefit consumers of the Zion Lutheran Church food pantry.

Students have also organized a distribution in which 70 food pantry consumers and community members will receive seed/seedlings and buckets of soil and compost to grow them.

Donations for the seedling project were provided by local greenhouses, home improvement stores and landscaping supply companies.