Students learn ‘Hunger 101′
As a political science major, Emma Wagner was learning about hypothetical poltiics, but wanted to do more.
“I want to involve myself on the welfare side of public policy and bring advocacy to help make not only the government but everyone else become more aware about those who are of low income tax brackets,” Wagner said.
Wagner, with the Lutheran Student Union, made their made her mission to spread awareness about the challenges of Baltimore County residents facing poverty, low income and food stamp collection.
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America acknowledged Wagner for her efforts with a grant to develop “Hunger 101,” which has been conducted for the seventh time across various areas in Baltimore.
At “Hunger 101,” event in Towson Feb. 18 students were assigned different “mock identities” to support themselves and family members, deal with social services while applying for food stamps, and learn how to spread their small budgets while using the best nutritional food calorie control.
“Multiple disadvantages come to those who use food stamps, if they are even lucky to be awarded them,” Wagner said. “There will always be conflicts for food assistance at grocery stores, food shelters and churches, plus dealing with the long and strenuous processes given by social services. Also age is a huge factor in getting food stamps.”
The concept of hunger and having to apply for food stamps is nothing new to junior Staci Merrick, who attended the event.
“I have filed for food stamps to feed myself before,” Merrick said “The process was ridiculous. To step in someone else’s shoes from a different walk of life was informative because it shows us how to live with so little, on so less. This is just so happens to be my life. Unfortunately I needed to find a way to make the best out of what I had while taking advantage of what I could receive.”
But for most students, the concept is foreign.
“Before I started this program, I didn’t know what a welfare application looked like,” Wagner said. “The process was very eye-opening because it takes a lot of steps to both file the paperwork and then wait for it to become accepted.”
For many citizens who cannot qualify for both welfare and food stamps, the Lutheran Student Union has taken initiative by lending a helpful hand to fellow residents throughout Baltimore County.
Lutheran campus administrative pastor for Towson University Laura Sinche helped show the difficult trails of how so many get by on so little.
“We want to raise awareness of what our brothers and sisters face,” Sinche said. “Most, but not all of the students on this campus come from privilledged backgrounds where they haven’t had to think about where their next meal will come from. It matters to us that others do have enough to eat.”
The LSU has worked on many projects and food donations throughout the county, especially with fellow churches in Baltimore City.
“Currently we are working with a church in East Baltimore once a month through the Assistant Center of Towson Churches,” Sinche said. “It is located in a neighborhood where a lot of people are facing many challenges so we are trying to teach them about more healthful eating and how to get by on a budget.”
Over spring break LSU will travel to Philadelphia, PA. to help fellow “brothers and sisters” who live with poverty and homelessness, and also encourage fellow students to become involved.
“Most go to bed well fed or might complain about cafeteria food,” Sinche said. “But many people do not have a choice about what they’re going to eat or if they’re even going to eat at all, and I want to help change that.”