Hunger in our community will be the focus of a unique project sponsored by United Way of the Central Carolinas Young Leaders (UWYL).
The young professionals have designed a multi-layered approach to raising awareness around the issue of hunger. Last year they collected about one ton of food. This year, they have designated Nov. 9-14 as the Week to Fight Hunger.
The UWYL has been active for 11 years. This is the sixth year they have launched the Week to Fight Hunger.
Lindsay Finneran, who works in the health care industry, is the UWYL member chairing the hunger project. She says participation in the week is open to anyone but they really want to engage young folks to experience the impact of hunger.
“We want to put the issue of hunger on their radar in a way they never thought about before,” Finneran said. “This has broadened my perspective about what hunger means and the role it plays for everyone in our community.”
She suggested that it’s important to consider details that can lead to hunger.
“There are so many things that are directly related to food including access, affordability, food deserts and making healthy food available to everyone,” Finneran said.
The UWYL will partner with organizations in Charlotte, Mooresville and Cornelius. The group also launched a Food Castle Competition. Corporations and community groups were asked to collect canned goods and build a can castle. Photos of the castles will be submitted and judged on Nov. 9.
The educational component of the Week to Fight Hunger will be the Hunger Challenge.
Sara Abadi, a member of UWYL said, “We challenge everyone to live off of $4 (worth of food) for a day.” This is the amount that SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) participants are allotted for food each day.
We want to put the issue of hunger on their radar in a way they never thought about before.
Lindsay Finneran, member of United Way Young Leaders
She said that, in the past, some members tried it for a week, but it was very tough. The main goal is to exemplify the food challenges that many people in our community face every day.
“We can all learn more and then help combat this problem,” Abadi said. “It opened my eyes when I tried to shop with $28 for a week.”
Abadi acknowledged that one Starbucks drink could easily wipe out the entire $4 daily allotment.
“We need to talk about how many people in our community are food-insecure and how some children only eat at school,” she said.
On Nov. 9, there will be a kick-off celebration at BB&T Ballpark from 5:30-7:30 p.m. It will serve as a networking event with a focus on hunger issues. Volunteers will also assemble snack packs for children in the Boys & Girls Clubs and A Child’s Place.
The photos of the can castles will also be on display for attendees to judge.
The winner of the can castle competition will get a $500 prize from United Way matched by another $500 from Publix, sponsor of the Week to Fight Hunger. The winner of the $1,000 prize will donate that money to any United Way partner agency they select. All canned goods will be donated to Loaves and Fishes.
UWYL will host several other projects throughout the week, including helping the Mooresville Christian Mission and the Mooresville Community Gardens as well as the Second Harvest Mobile Pantry and Friendship Trays.
Abadi said people who are not young professionals can still play a role in the Week to Fight Hunger.
“Challenge yourself, your parents, teach your children, get your company involved or make a donation to the United Way Community Care Fund,” Abadi said. “I think Charlotte is a very community-minded city. Because it’s smaller you can jump in and get involved a little faster.”
The long-term goal of UWYL is to inspire young professionals to improve communities through collaborative action utilizing philanthropic, volunteer and leadership activities. They undertake a variety of other service projects focused on different community issues.
Charlene Price-Patterson is a freelance writer: CPPCityNews@gmail.com.
The Week to Fight Hunger kick-off event will take place at BB&T Ballpark Nov. 9 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. For details, go to: uwcentralcarolinas.org/wtfh. To learn more about UWYL, go to: http://uwyl.org/. You can also contact Sarah Degnan at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 704-371-6255.