Challah For Hunger addresses food insecurity stigma

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Paige Maizes
For Mitzpeh
@MaizesPaige

Challah for Hunger, an international non-profit that has a chapter at this university, hosted a Zoom conversation addressing the stigma that surrounds food insecurity and hunger on Oct. 22 at 5 p.m.

 

Two guest speakers at the event spoke about food insecurity amongst college students. 

The mission for the organization is to “end college student hunger,” according to Emily Kass, the community engagement manager for Swipe Out Hunger and a Challah for Hunger alumna. The issue is bigger than one would expect, she explained.

 

Swipe Out Hunger is a nonprofit based in Los Angeles, CA, and uses “ongoing campus presence” such as brochures, posters, online resources and newsletters to promote the destigmatization of hunger amongst college students. Kass explained that this organization is established at over 120 college campuses and currently working in 39 states.

In addition to promoting the de-stigmatization of college hunger, Swipe Out Hunger has anti-hunger programs, like the Swipe Drive. This program’s design has three parts: students can donate extra meal swipes for college students who cannot afford the meal programs; these donated dollars/extra meal swipes are then moved into the Swipe fund (a bank for the donated meal swipes); then the Swipe fund is used towards meal swipes and campus food pantry.

Bethany Hendrickson is the program manager at Leah’s Pantry, a nonprofit based in California. Leah’s Pantry includes many programs such as www.eatfresh.org which offers “quick, easy, affordable recipes and nutritional information” according to Hendrickson.

Leah’s Pantry is currently “the leading voice in Trauma-Informed Nutrition Security.” This goal is presented through a Model of Community Nourishment chart.

Challah for Hunger, Swipe Out Hunger and Leah’s Pantry all share a common goal: to end hunger and the stigma that surrounds this ideology for college students across the world.

Senior psychology and communications major Anna Kaplan, junior psychology and criminology & criminal justice major Serena Freund and junior family science major Gabi Frohlich are co-presidents of the Challah for Hunger Chapter at this university. Including the three girls, there are 10 members on the board, but an average of 25 volunteers will come to Hillel and braid challah each week before Shabbat.

To promote the de-stigmatization of hunger towards college students, the non-profit organization has designated days to either braid or sell the challah.

On Fridays during a normal semester, Challah for Hunger sells the challah that they braid out of Hillel: members spend one hour at the Hillel building and one hour on a different part of campus (i.e. in front of STAMP, on McKeldin Mall, Terp Row).

However, this semester’s social distance restrictions have shifted the organization’s focus to virtual conversations about food insecurity.

“Because of COVID, we cannot sell challah unfortunately based on UMD’s rules, COVID rules and rules from our national office,” Kaplan said.

Kaplan explained that Challah for Hunger’s audience has grown through social media campaigns. Students can now tag @challahforhunger_umd when posting their braided challahs and possibly win #BraideroftheWeek to spread the message and gain exposure for the non-profit.

Challah for Hunger at this university has expanded over the years through social media campaigns, events and Hillel functions. In 2018, Maryland Hillel had an event with the club that focused on Israeli culture. The volunteers and students came and made a chocolate spread, covered the inside of their challahs with the mixture and then baked them.

Overall, these nonprofit organizations have taken the time to build a reputation on college campuses and have made an impact on those who are hungry and afraid of asking for help in this world. This event showcased how they make students feel less alone and allow them to succeed by appeasing their appetite. 

More information can be found on the video for the event and Challah for Hunger’s website.