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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Students fundraise to stop hunger in Bellingham

Students asked for baby food donations for entry into the film "Place at the Table," which discusses the growing hunger issue in the United States on Thursday, Feb. 11. // Photo by Nicole Valley
Students asked for baby food donations for entry into the film “Place at the Table,” which discusses the growing hunger issue in the United States on Thursday, Feb. 11. // Photo by Nicole Valley

Carrying on the tradition of the community health major, Western students held a  fundraiser for the Bellingham Food Bank to raise money and collect baby food for Bellingham residents in need.

The event’s main attraction, a documentary titled “A Place at the Table,”  tied in with the theme of the fundraiser which took place in Fraser Hall on Thursday, Feb. 11. The documentary portrays the growing issue of hunger in the United States, which is also a growing problem in Bellingham.

The community health cohort includes a group of 25 to 28 students that attend classes together for two years. Part of the cohort’s learning experience includes taking on a fundraiser through the Bellingham Food Bank and working with Food4Tots, which aims to provide baby food for Bellingham residents.

Junior Dana Hasert is a student of the community health major and helped organize the fundraiser.

Since the recession in 2007, visits to the Bellingham Food Bank have gone up by just over 90 percent, director of the Bellingham Food Bank Mike Cohen said.

Cohen said the amount of visits they see each month at the food bank is about 12,500, a number which may include visitors coming as often as once a week.

About two or three percent of those going to the food bank are under two years old, Cohen said.

“It’s great to be able to work with so many people to try to really get great food to the families who visit us because that’s what they deserve,” Cohen said.

Each year the task is passed on to the next class, who organize their own fundraising ideas.

Junior Sarah McTyeire, who also volunteers separately for the Bellingham Food Bank, said she was unaware that hunger in children was such a prevalent issue in Bellingham.

“If you’re hungry you can’t be successful in school,” she said. “There’s just so much that [hunger] impacts.”

The Bellingham Food Bank also has farms which they use to push for greater access to fresh and healthy food for residents who don’t know about its benefits, McTyeire said.

Senior Kaylen Hébert said she discovered the community health major after taking related GURs. The supporting communities are important for public health, since they don’t have the same type of government support that corporate health does.

“As they said in the movie, public health is kind of the difference between your community and corporate health,” Hébert said. “Communities, the public and people you see every day need help too, they need assistance and they need people to back them up.”

The Food4Tots program will be holding other fundraisers throughout the rest of the quarter, including an event at Trampoline Zone on Feb. 25.

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