Social Work Students Bring Awareness to Childhood Hunger

Rinae Cotton, Reporter

Social work students are striving to bring more awareness to childhood hunger through a series of events.

The events are part of a larger service learning project for the Social Work Methods and Processes III class, but students are treating the effort as much more than a class grade.

Kayla Rembish, senior social work major, said she and other group members decided the topic of childhood hunger would be an appropriate topic to do for their service learning project, especially since most of them had prior experience in this area with the Dinner For Kids program last year.

Savannah Gregoris, also a  senior social work major, said each student is responsible for a part of the project, which include performing physical outreach programs, creating and distributing posters and even writing state representatives.

“The canned food drive in particular will be a physical outreach to the children, as we will be distributing the cans to the families involved with the dinners for kids program,” said Gregoris. “We also wrote a letter to the Representative Karen Boback about the effects of childhood hunger to make her aware of the issue.”

She hopes the effort will not only help spread awareness of the issue but also inspire others to take action.

“We can only hope that this will promote actions within our community. It is up to all of us to care and act,” Gregoris said.

She said her major gives her the ability to perceive such issues in the community, and she is grateful.

Jared Leuddeke, senior social work major, collected local and national statistics on childhood hunger for his part of the project.

“In the U.S., 16 million American children struggle with hunger each year. Half of all food stamp recipients are children,” said Leuddeke. He added that one in seven children in Pennsylvania struggle with food insecurity.

He explained that before the pandemic hit, those numbers were beginning to drop, but they have increased again.

He hopes the group’s efforts will make people realize the seriousness of this issue.

“Our plan is to put posters up in the dining hall for maximum foot traffic as well as have a sign the whole week on our monitor facing Lake Street as cars pass,” he said.

Leuddeke said working on the project has opened his eyes to the effects of poverty and ways he can lend a helping hand.

“This will have a direct impact on our clients, as we will absolutely encounter people living at or below the poverty line,” he said.

Rembish said this project has made her realize how much people can help if they try.

“This project helped me understand how much of an issue childhood hunger is. Looking at the how many children are impacted by this matter on a national and local matter really showed me how much we each need to contribute and help,” she said.

Rembish said COVID-19 has impacted these families severely, and she sees that as another reason for people to help.

“This project has allowed our class and I to take charge with helping a vulnerable group that we are passionate about helping. Since childhood hunger and poverty may be a reason a client seeks our aid, this is a way that we have gained knowledge working with this group,”  said Rembish.

The group’s Childhood Hunger campaign events will be a part of Dinner For Kids week Oct. 12 to 16.