My time at Ohio University has opened my eyes to some of the privileges I’ve had in life. The most substantial being my availability to food. There has never been a time in my life where I have not been able to feed myself, and this is something I believe has blinded many of my fellow students as well. We all have heard the saying “There are starving children in China, eat your dinner.” but may of us don’t realize that there are starving families in Athens. I think that a project that could open the eyes of the student body to the region the live in, and create a call to action for local businesses to get involved could really be an amazing opportunity to help fight the poverty that surrounds this wealthy University.
I think this project would be best completed in steps.
Step 1: Student Awareness
This portion of the plan would involve bringing information to the students. Putting posters around campus that highlight some of the facts regarding Appalachian Poverty, maybe highlighting some groups that are already active in Athens that they may have only heard of by chance, or a widely unused resources on campus, using residence halls to participate in food drives and promotion. Step 1 is important because if students are unaware of the issue, they won’t act as a support system for our project.
Step 2: Local Business Participation
Small business are the backbone of Athens culture, and I think getting them involved in a community they have been apart of for years would be a great move. This could be smaller scale initiative such as making a “Pay it Forward” program where students can buy meals ahead of time for people in Athens who may not be able to afford it, or having reading materials about the poverty in the area, or donation boxes for local organizations. This can help support Step 1 by bringing community members and off campus residents who may not be in areas on campus that Step 1 would affect.
Step 3: University Involvement.
This is the most in-depth part of the initiative, which would be to somehow work out a system with Ohio University where the dining halls would decrease waste by turning them in to a soup-kitchen once a week. This plan is based off the idea that food from the dining halls cannot be donated because of health regulations, but if they were use utilize the left over food they have at the end of the week, they could greatly benefit the community. This will be more difficult to coordinate because it involves going through the University and there will have to be compromises based on costs for the university etc.
I am excited to be able to present this idea through Athens’ Own. I hope that this could be a great chance to get Ohio University more involved in its community and make a lasting impact on the people who surround the school.