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Students ‘pay tribute to hunger’ with service-learning

BOONE—What does hunger mean to the community? What does it mean to be hungry? Students in the First Year Seminar course Paying Tribute to Hunger spend a semester trying to answer this question.

View larger imageFreshman Erin Griffith completed her service-learning project for her First Year Seminar by volunteering at F.A.R.M. Cafe. (Photo courtesy of Erin Griffith)View larger imageFreshman Mimi Miller volunteered at F.A.R.M. Cafe to complete her service-learning project for the First Year Seminar titled Paying Tribute to Hunger. The class focuses on teaching students about the many aspects of hunger. (Photo Courtesy of Mimi Miller)

The class’ instructor, Dr. Lisa McNeal, uses the popular fiction novel “Hunger Games” and a profile of a young woman surviving a famine, “Dreams of Joy,” to discuss many aspects of hunger: its roots in poverty and power, its universality, and what people can do to help.

Student Mimi Miller signed up to take the class this fall to learn more about the hunger crisis in America, she said.

After seeing students face hunger while working for non-profit City Year, a program under AmeriCorps, this past summer she realized how troubling hunger can be.

The students at Public School 345 in Brooklyn, New York, where Miller worked faced some of the issues of poverty she now learns more about in her First Year Seminar.

Paying Tribute to Hunger students are required to complete three hours of service work by the end of the semester as part of their service-learning project. The project starts and can sometimes end on King Street at F.A.R.M. Cafe.

Students are introduced to the project first by touring the pay-what-you-can restaurant where everyone can eat, regardless of means. They are then tasked with completing three hours of service related to hunger while keeping a journal of their experiences.

“(F.A.R.M. Cafe’s) mission to feed those who are struggling to make ends meet without any judgment from a sincere and caring staff was really up-lifting,” Miller said.
For that reason, Miller said she has chosen to complete her final project at F.A.R.M. Cafe.

McNeal has taught this course for three years, and each year about half of the students return to the cafe to complete their service hours, she said. However, some students also choose to help with other local charities or even organizations in their home towns.

“I want students to realize that yes, they are at the university but they are also members of the Boone community,” McNeal said. “Even though they are on college student budgets, they can still give back with community service.”