Throughout my years as an undergraduate at the College of William & Mary, I was devoted to activism. I joined the executive board of the NAACP in my first semester of college and later became a leader in Black Lives Matter Williamsburg. I loved working with both of these organizations and dedicated much of my time to them. I worked with organizers to create a better and more supportive campus environment for all students of color. Despite logistical dilemmas, struggles to get adequate funding, and difficulty in choosing precisely what kind of events we should put on, the biggest challenge by far involved none of the above. The biggest challenge to me was myself.
I constantly struggled with my internal thoughts about how to create lasting change. I felt that activism on campus often turned into an annual to-do list of the same tactics, showing few signs of making a change in our community. Of course, it was important to hold educational events, which was the norm, and great to have annual, recognizable events for consistency and higher visibility. But somewhere in the process, we became too fixated on the tactics rather than the goal. Where was the acknowledgment of the systemic nature of the issues we were trying to solve? Where were the lasting solutions that could make lives better?
We had a Campus Kitchen’s chapter on campus, and I volunteered there once, just before Thanksgiving. I was not particularly aware of food insecurity in my community at the time (however, I did notice the immense amount of food waste in our dining halls). Volunteering that one day was eye-opening. I saw just how many families received full Thanksgiving meals from recovered food and how much food was recovered. The only reason why I never went back was that I thought perhaps this was only a band-aid solution and perhaps the work of the NAACP and BLM could find a systemic way to combat the issue of hunger in a world of abundance.
Now I am an organizer with U.S. PIRG. As the Zero Hunger Campaign Associate, I advocate for a systemic solution to hunger.
Our Zero Hunger campaign focuses on ending hunger by getting the abundant food we have to the people who can use it. Getting food to people who need it goes hand-in-hand with cutting food waste. We are calling on college and universities across the nation to commit to a goal of zero hunger. We want to show that this is an achievable goal; through solutions such as food rescue, meal swipe donation programs, food pantries, community gardens, and more, we can end hunger.
There is absolutely no reason anyone should go hungry when we produce plenty of food for everyone. This is why I want to fight for zero hunger, and why I return to organizations like the Food Recovery Network and Campus Kitchens. They are dedicated to food rescue, but also to redirecting the resources we have that would otherwise we wasted to those in need.
With Zero Hunger, I hope that together, we can create a movement nationally that will fight hunger with the guiding principle that we do not have to make more to have enough. We have enough for everyone, we just have to make better use of our resources. We have wasted our food and resources for too long; now we must stop wasting our time. Let’s fight for Zero Hunger.
To learn more about this campaign and how to join our national movement to end hunger, please contact Damiana Dendy at firstname.lastname@example.org. All interest and questions are welcome!