Iowa State students skip a meal to assist the hungry

Karen Jennings

More people die from hunger each year than from AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined, according to Oxfam America’s Food For All fact sheet. This week ISU students are supporting a national movement to end world hunger by donating a meal from their meal plans to the organization.

Oxfam America is an international relief and development organization. The group is part of Oxfam, a confederation of 13 organizations working together in 90 countries and with partners and allies around the world to find lasting solutions to poverty and injustice, according to their website.

Oxfam America and St. Thomas Aquinas Church and Catholic Student Center in Ames have been working with Iowa State since 1940.  Every year they organize the skip-a-meal event, which allows students to sacrifice one of their meals to provide a monetary donation to the organization.

“Oxfam America is a simple way for people to get involved and help other people,” said Heidi Dittmer, sophomore in agronomy and member of the Service and Justice Team at St. Thomas Aquinas.

More than 925 million people worldwide suffer from chronic hunger, according to the fact sheet. Today, almost one in six people do not receive enough food to be healthy and lead an active life; making hunger and malnutrition the number one risk to health worldwide.

The skip-a-meal event allows students to contribute to the international efforts underway to combat hunger without leaving campus.

“A lot of students are passionate about world hunger, but being in  college you can’t really do much, so we give students the opportunity to do that,” Dittmer said. 

Oxfam America’s donations go to every person in need across the world. The number of students who sign up for the event increases every year, Dittmer said.

Iowa State offered opportunities for students to donate at the three dining centers Nov. 8 to 13. So far, 1,005 people have signed up to donate. St. Thomas Aquinas organizes the money and sends it to Oxfam America.

“Every dollar counts. I donate what I don’t need to others who need it,” said Cassidy Leclaire, junior in chemical engineering and member of the Service and Justice Team.

Leclaire stressed the importance of reaching out to others who don’t have the same opportunities and resources.

“[It’s about] treating others how you want to be treated,” Leclaire said. “If you were starving and needed something to eat, you would be thankful and not go hungry.”

Thanksgiving is next week, and Dittmer said this is the time of the year to be giving thanks and giving something for a purpose, whether it be a meal or love.

“Around the time of Thanksgiving, we focus on some of the other things we have. We give our abundance to people so they can have something to eat,” Dittmer said. “We fast for one meal so we can experience what they go through every day.”