November 14, 2008

Feeding Minds, Fighting Hunger week is Nov. 16-21

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s inaugural “Feeding Minds, Fighting Hunger” week, Nov. 16-21, will serve as a reminder that poverty, homelessness and hunger constitute a real and growing problem, and present opportunities to do something about it.

The Rev. Arthur Simon, well-known champion for the hungry and world hunger expert, will be the keynote speaker on Wednesday, Nov. 19. Like his father, the late Rev. Martin Simon, he’s a Lutheran minister, and with his brother, the late U.S. Sen. Paul Simon, he co-authored “The Politics of World Hunger.” Simon’s newest book, “Grace at the Table: Ending Hunger in God’s World,” addresses the causes of hunger and what people can do to help.

Widely published in major newspapers and publications, Simon has fought for the poor, hungry and underserved for decades. In 1972 he helped found Bread for the World, a national citizens organization fighting on behalf of the poor and hungry. He was the organization’s president, serving for nearly 20 years.

Simon is the 2004 recipient of the prestigious Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award, joining such notable recipients as Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr., and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The Saluki Volunteer Corps and the AmeriCorps VISTA Program are sponsoring the free lecture, with co-sponsorship from the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.

The National Coalition for the Homeless annually sponsors a National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness campaign the week prior to Thanksgiving. This year, SIUC, working with several non-profit agencies and businesses, is participating in the educational and community service-based event.

“The purpose of Feeding Minds, Fighting Hunger Week is to bring more awareness about poverty issues to SIUC,” said Iesha Monã Wilson, AmeriCorps VISTA leader for the SIUC Student Development office. Wilson, of Carbondale, is a May 2008 English/speech communication graduate from SIUC and one of her main projects this year is organizing what she hopes will become an annual National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week commemoration at SIUC.

“It’s designed to educate the student population, increase community service and build campus relations,” Wilson said. “The mission of the week is to educate but also to serve directly community members affected by poverty. Poverty affects many populations and the faces of the hungry and homeless are expanding beyond stereotypes. We’re trying to educate students about poverty issues and give them a chance to contribute, to fight hunger through a variety of food drives and events. We want to start a movement of civic engagement, to encourage students to be educated, to voice their concerns and to volunteer.”

Feeding Minds, Fighting Hunger Week 2008 activities are free and open to the public except as noted. The schedule includes:

Sunday, Nov. 16

• Free bread day, 1:30-3 p.m. at the Murphysboro Youth and Recreation Center, 1818 Walnut St., Murphysboro. Panera Bread is donating baked goods for distribution to families in need. Come volunteer to help with the distribution.

Monday, Nov. 17

• Right to Food petition, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. People may come to the first floor of the SIUC Student Center and sign the national Right to Food Campaign petitions calling for provision of free lunches to elementary school youth worldwide.

• Community Cupboard Carbondale Food Pantry, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., 400 E. Jackson St., Carbondale. They welcome volunteers to help distribute food to area community members in need.

• “Poverty and the Economy: Failed Practices and New Theory,” 6-8 p.m., Mississippi Room on the second floor of the Student Center. This panel discussion features people from various academic departments within the University discussing the poor and the economy.

Tuesday, Nov. 18

• A Gift of Love Charity -- the third annual Coats for Kids drive, at variations locations throughout the community. All day long, volunteers will help deliver warm winter coats to local children and to organizations benefitting kids.

• Campus Dialogue: Assisting the Homeless, 7-9 p.m., Communications Building Second Floor Conference Room (Room 2005). Open to SIUC students, it’s an open forum discussing the positives and negatives of directly assisting impoverished communities.

Wednesday, Nov. 19

• American Red Cross blood drive, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Student Center, first floor. Donate blood or help with recruitment or the refreshment table.

• Bread for the World campaign informational session, 2:30-4 p.m., Faner Hall, Humanities Lounge/Room 2302. It’s a chance to learn more about the Bread for the World campaign and its fight against hunger the world over.

• The Rev. Arthur Simon presents “The Politics of World Hunger,” 7 p.m., Student Center second floor auditorium.

Thursday, Nov. 20

• Anti-poverty letter offering, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at Carbondale City Hall. Community members, SIUC students and faculty can learn more about poverty at an informational table and draft letters to state legislators relating their thoughts on the issues of hunger and poverty.

• Good Samaritan House, Carbondale Food Pantry, 701 S. Marion St., Carbondale. They’re looking for volunteers to help package food and meals for clients as needed during the day.

• Fighting Hunger Campus-wide Fast, 5 p.m.-5 a.m. Friday. Sign a pledge of abstinence and for 12 hours see what it’s like to be hungry.

* Feeding Minds, a film and discussion in the video lounge on the fourth floor of the Student Center, 7-9:30 p.m. The film “Dark Days” illustrates the lives of a group of homeless Americans living in an abandoned railway system in New York City. Discussion follows.

• Rock Out for Poverty, all day Thursday and Friday. Community residents can drop donations in marked donation boxes at various locations, with proceeds going to the Jackson County Chapter of Habitat for Humanity.

Friday, Nov. 21

• Meals on Wheels, Bethel Food Delivery, 316 E. Jackson St., Carbondale, 11:45 a.m.-1:30 p.m. They’re looking for volunteers to help deliver food to those in need.

• Agape potluck meal, Interfaith Center, 913 S. Illinois Ave., Carbondale, 6 p.m. A potluck dinner brings together students, faculty and community members for fellowship and the closing ceremony of Feeding Minds, Fighting Hunger Week 2008.

The AmeriCorps Vista Program, Students for Peace and Democracy, the Civic Engagement Dialogue Series and The Bread for the World Campaign are sponsors of the week’s activities. Also contributing are SIUC Student Development, The Interfaith Center, Paul Simon Public Policy Institute. Department of Speech Communication, School of Social Work, Morris Library, Bethel AME Church, Action Against Hunger, Illinois Hunger Coalition, Illinois Campus Compact, Murphysboro Youth and Recreational Center, A Gift of Love Charity, Good Samaritan House Ministries, the American Red Cross and the Daily Egyptian.

For more information about Feeding Minds, Fighting Hunger Week 2008, contact Wilson at 618/453-5714 or via e-mail at