All posts by Talia Berday Sacks

Apply to join our National Board of Directors

Your voice matters to us. This is why we are looking for a
student representative to serve on our national Board of Directors.

The Challah for Hunger Board of Directors is a group of committed
volunteers who are responsible for overseeing the organization’s activities. Board members meet periodically to discuss and vote on the affairs of the organization.

Two years ago, we added two student members in order to ensure that the student voice is represented in big picture conversations. We currently have one student representative (Rachel Quinn from Binghamton) and are
looking for a fantastic leader to fill the other position.

Interested? Read about the Roles & Responsibilities and then submit a short application by June 10, 2017.

With gratitude,
Carly

Attention Students and Alumni: Take A Look at Our Surveys!

Every year, we send current student leaders and their volunteers a survey. The survey always provides us with helpful feedback. Thanks to the students who fill it, we’ve been able to improve our resources and strengthen our community.

Take the Student Survey here. 

For the first time ever, we are also releasing an alumni survey to better understand where our alumni are today and how CfH has shaped their lives post-graduation.

Take the Alumni Survey here.

From Cooking to Advocacy on Campus

Arielle Pearlman is a senior at Colgate University, graduating in May with a double major in Psychology and Spanish. She is a board member of Challah for Hunger at Colgate and serves on of the Student Planning Team for the Campus Hunger Project.

“Until the past few years, the problem of college students experiencing hunger and food insecurity received little attention and was under-researched. Coming from a private liberal arts college, this type of hyper-local hunger was never really on my radar.”

She reflected on her experience on The Charles and Lynn Schusterman
Family Foundation
 blog. You can read her full piece here.

Student Perspectives: UMass-Amherst and the Campus Hunger Project

Rebecca Goldberg, a junior, and Arielle Newman, a senior, are co-presidents of Challah for Hunger at University of Massachusetts – Amherst. To follow our chapters’ research and advocacy work, sign up for monthly updates here.

We decided to get involved in the Campus Hunger Project because as a chapter we want to be advocates for our peers. In order to do so, we needed to learn about what our university was currently doing to  help students
experiencing hunger.

We learned that in Fall 2016, the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education conducted a survey of student hunger and homelessness in the state’s 29 public colleges and universities. Nearly 40% of the state’s public campuses reported an increase in students living with food insecurity. We were struck by that fact that out of the five UMass campuses, UMass Amherst is the only one that is not operating or partnering with a regular or mobile food pantry.

However, during an interview with a member of the Dean of Students office, we learned about the different ways that the University does support students with financial need who are experiencing food insecurity.

  1. UMass Amherst offers loans without interest or late fees that can be taken out by students in need.
  2.  UMass Dining offers free meal swipes (the way our dining halls work is you swipe your university card and the food is buffet style) to those who demonstrate food insecurity.
  3. The Dean of Students office is working to create a Supply Closet Program stocked with toiletries and basic household items for students.There would be a few locations on campus where students could go for support such as the Center for Counseling and Psychological Health and the Dean of Students office.

All in all, we were pleasantly surprised by the number of  programs that UMass Amherst has since few people know about them due to minimal to no advertisement. These programs show that the University cares about fighting student hunger and supporting those students who are affected by it. Additionally, during the interview with the Dean of Students office, we found out that the majority of students find out about the office’s programs through word of mouth.

With that said, we make sure to tell our volunteers and the student body about these programs so that they are aware of them and can spread the word as well. During all of the volunteer sessions, we have a hunger advocacy component where we talk and teach about student hunger and the resources available to students. We also have fliers and information sheets on the table during tabling when we sell the challah bread. Challah for Hunger at UMass has been working hard to and is continuing to spread the word about all of the programs that UMass Amherst has to offer.

Student Perspectives: College Meals Plans and Campus Hunger

Lauren is one of five student leaders on the Campus Hunger Project Planning Team. She is a current sophomore and a board member of Challah for Hunger at the University of Vermont. To follow Lauren and the Planning Team’s progress, sign up for monthly updates here.

As a student at the University of Vermont, I have seen many of my peers struggle to budget out their meal plan’s dining points for the semester and end up forced to spend money buying meals outside of the plan or even skip meals if they do not have this money.

This is not just a problem on my campus: according to a recent study, 46% of food insecure college students run out of meal points before the semester is over compared to 33% of all students running out of meal points.

My current meal plan costs $2,061 a semester and comes with 1400 dining points, which averages out to about 90 dining points a week, or a little under $20.11 per day. For one week, I decided to try living off this dining point budget without skipping meals or spending more than 90 points.

By day one I realized that there was no way I was going to stay in this budget if I was only buying prepared food. From the limited grocery section available in the on-campus grocery market I bought cereal, an individual sized milk, rice, frozen broccoli and a small container of sliced chicken breast costing a day’s worth of points. I wanted to make those ingredients last me three days worth of dinner and breakfast and then I could spend the combination of the two other days of points on three days worth of lunches at other markets closer to my classes where I don’t have time to prepare food in between class.

I was able to eat three meals a day for the whole week, but it took a lot of planning and control. The only way I was able to stay within my 90 points was to prepare my own meals from the very limited grocery selection. I was definitely hungry at some points during the day and found myself seeking out free food whenever I could. Snacks were hard to buy as they only sell individually portioned snacks which tends to be pricier than buying a whole package. I found it hard to eat healthy as well, when buying ingredients for dinner my vegetable options were frozen corn or frozen broccoli and my starch options were pasta or white rice. My goal for lunch was to buy whatever would fill me up the most even if it wasn’t a healthy option.

I realized during this week that I am very lucky to have the ability to get food elsewhere if I need it – after just one week eating on this limited budget, I felt more hungry and tired than usual. It was very stressful trying to budget my meal plan and find time every day to cook dinner.

Expensive, mandatory meals plans that don’t provide three meals a day are causing serious health and financial issues for low income students who pay for a required meal plan and can’t afford to buy food elsewhere.

Two organizations are trying to help these students. The nonprofit Swipe Out Hunger allows students to donate meal swipes and points that they do not need to their peers. Over 400 Universities and Colleges as members of the College and University Food Bank Alliance have on campus food banks that allow students to get additional food which can help them spread out their meal plan.

While these resources are very useful to help students get the food they need at the current moment, students at some schools are advocating for more permanent solutions, petitioning the cost, quality, and availability of the food on the meal plan. Here at the University of Vermont a new committee of faculty was formed to investigate these issues further on our campus. These actions are urging policy changes at the university level which is the only way to cause long term change for the food security of students.

Chapter spotlight: CfH at Vanderbilt

Our guest blogger this week is Sydney, the chapter president of CfH at Vanderbilt University. At least once a semester, the chapter volunteers with their local partner The Nashville Food Project to prepare food for the organization’s meal program.

I got involved in Challah for Hunger because I wanted to spend some of my time in college giving back to others, and I loved the idea of doing so as part of a Jewish community. Like Alexander Hamilton, our chapter here at Vandy is young, scrappy, and hungry. We’re a relatively new organization on campus, and although we are small, we work hard at our biweekly bakes and almost always sell out of challah! We love adding our own unique flare to our challahs, experimenting with new flavors including s’mores, pumpkin spice, red velvet, and so many more. We’ve also created a new preorder system that helps us to sell even more challah and raise more money for MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger and the Nashville Food Project. Last semester we raised over $800 -we are not throwing away our shot!

Our Latest Update on the Campus Hunger Project

Meet Our Student Planning Team
Alex, UC-Berkeley
Arielle, Colgate University
Bridget, University of Arizona
Lauren R, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Lauren B, University of Vermont

This team is busy teaching other chapter leaders about the Campus Hunger Project, supporting students as they conduct interviews with administrators, and organizing campus events.

Student Perspectives

As students conduct interviews with campus administrators, we are inviting them to share their advocacy experiences. Last week we featured Yvonne and Gerry, students from the Washington University of St. Louis chapter. Click here to Yvonne and Gerry’s story.

Campus Hunger in the News
Stay up to date with the issue. Check out these articles.

Mass. Public Campuses See More Hungry And Homeless Students, January 24, 2017

Did you find an article, podcast, or video related to campus hunger that you’d like to share? Email CfH Program Manager Talia at talia@challahforhunger.org.

Student Perspectives: The Campus Hunger Project

As Challah for Hunger chapter leaders conduct interviews with campus administrators, we are inviting student leaders to share their advocacy experience. Sophomores Gerry and Yvonne are student leaders at the CfH chapter at Washington University of St. Louis, and share their interview experience below. 

Our  interview with an assistant dean in the Office of the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs was really enlightening. She shared with us the resources that are available to WashU students who live off-campus and are struggling to access to food. These resources include an emergency fund that students can apply for and a nearby community food pantry. While it was comforting to learn that our school has a protocol in place to help students, we were surprised that knowledge of these resources among the student body is quite low. This inspired our Challah for Hunger chapter to spread awareness of these resources to better support our peers in the WashU community. 

To learn more about the Campus Hunger Project, click here. 

A New York Alumni Gathering

During the first week of the New Year, Challah for Hunger alumni in New York gathered together for a Shabbat dinner. We asked alumna Isabel, who helped organize the event, to share her experience.

Hi! My name is Isabel, and I’m a recent graduate from Barnard College where I was president of the Barnard/Columbia chapter. Since graduating, I’ve started working at a developmental and cancer biology lab at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City. As I’m figuring out my life post-college, I want to find ways to build my Jewish community in a new setting, so when the opportunity to host a CfH Shabbat dinner came up, I was excited to be involved. I co-hosted with two other alumni – Sapir and Ana from UVA – and the night was a wonderful experience where we enjoyed homemade challah, great company, and made new connections that will hopefully continue.

To learn about other alumni opportunities, visit our Alumni page.