Packing Thanksgiving baskets for those in need and running a “Wild Goose Chase” among the Hardin Valley Campus’ notorious Canada geese are among the events Pellissippi State Community College will host to raise money, food donations and awareness during National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.
Co-sponsored by the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness and the National Coalition for the Homeless, the purpose of the annual week of events is to educate the student body and community about hunger and homelessness while giving Pellissippi State and its community partners opportunities to help those in need.
“National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week is always the week before Thanksgiving to remind us that many people will not have that hot meal, may not have family to visit, may be living in their car,” said Student Care and Advocacy Director Drema Bowers.
Student food insecurity is a growing concern on campuses, with the 2019 #RealCollege National Survey reporting 45% of respondents were food insecure in the prior 30 days, 56% of respondents were housing insecure in the previous year, and 17% of respondents were homeless in the previous year.
“The numbers of students we’ve helped in Student Care and Advocacy this semester is staggering,” Bowers noted of Pellissippi State’s office that provides holistic support by connecting students to internal and external resources that address nonacademic barriers to success such as economic stability, housing, transportation, food access and health care. “We’ve seen more than 230 students this semester.”
Activities at a glance:
- Pellissippi State’s alumni will kick off the festivities on Friday, Nov. 12, with a Panther Power Pack Packing Party. These “Power Packs” include either a chicken salad or tuna salad kit, bottle of water, energy bar, fruit cup and piece of candy. Gluten-friendly options are available to students as well, who can simply grab a Power Pack of their choice from a shelf outside the college’s Student Engagement and Leadership office on the Hardin Valley Campus. Power Packs also will be delivered to Pellissippi State’s other four campuses for distribution.
- Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. and his fellow administrators will pack Thanksgiving baskets for the college’s 65 Pellissippi Pantry recipients on Monday, Nov. 15. The Pellissippi Pantry provides access to healthy foods for members of the Pellissippi State family who may be experiencing food insecurity. They will be distributed later in the week to Pellissippi Pantry participants on each campus.
- Before the packing gets underway, Wise will sign a proclamation marking Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week at Pellissippi State. He will be joined by alumna Stephanie Davis, who established the college’s Homeless Student Scholarship in September 2014, when she was researching student homelessness for an English assignment. To date, 33 students have received the scholarship, for a total of $14,800 in financial support provided.
- Students can learn more about the community agencies that assist citizens with housing and food security during Pellissippi State’s Hunger and Homelessness Resource Fair 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 16, in the College Center on the Hardin Valley Campus. The first 40 students who attend will be given a voucher for a free lunch from Buddy’s Bar-B-Q.
- The week will end Saturday, Nov. 20, with the college’s second annual Wild Goose Chase, a 5K around the duck pond on the Hardin Valley Campus. While there is no fee to enter the 9 a.m. race, which is family friendly, participants are asked to bring canned food for the Pellissippi Pantry. The event also serves as a ceremonial kickoff for the Tennessee Board of Regents’ annual food drive, which ends Dec. 10. Any food collected by Pellissippi State stays with Pellissippi State, and each $1 donated in cash equals two cans of food.
To help Pellissippi State students who are experiencing food insecurity, donate to the Pellissippi Pantry here. To donate directly to the college’s Homeless Student Scholarship, which provides $500 a semester to a student experiencing homelessness, visit this Pellissippi State Foundation website.