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Students form organization to battle hunger

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Posted: Monday, April 28, 2014 11:30 pm

It began as a class project to alleviate hunger in Nacogdoches by holding a canned food drive and fundraiser. But the students in Dr. Miranda Terry’s Introduction to Community Health class took it one step further — they started a student organization called Hunger Jacks.

Terry, who was hired by SFA in July 2013, said this is a project she likes to do each semester.

“Last semester, the class raised 556 items and a little over $900,” she said. “This semester, the class raised over 2,200 items (1,800 food items and 445 personal hygiene items) and almost $1,600.”

All the canned food, personal hygiene items and $550 cash will be given to Harvest House food pantry in Nacogdoches. The checks collected, totaling $1,050, will be sent to the East Texas Food Bank in Tyler, a food bank that serves Nacogdoches County as well as 25 other counties.

“The class project was created to alleviate hunger in our local area as 1 in 4 children face hunger, 1 in 5 adults face hunger and 1 in 8 elders face hunger, with 1 in 7 elders behind malnourished,” Terry said. “Harvest House had their budget cut last year, so the class decided to keep the items and cash donated locally to help our neighbors; however, since Harvest House and other local food pantries receive food from the East Texas Food Bank, it was important for the class project to support that organization as well,” Terry said.

Three students in the class, Stephen Decker, Brittany Hearnsberger and Ariel Jones “were inspired when hearing about the number of people affected by hunger in our local area and the impact our class project had in our community,” Terry said.

That’s when they started looking into ways they could start an organization.

Hearnsberger, a junior kinesiology major, currently serves as vice president of Hunger Jacks. She said once they got started raising funds and food items, they didn’t want to stop.

“We found an organization called the Food Recovery Network, and we are basically a sister organization to them,” Hearnsberger said. “We realized how much the community needs our help in raising food and funds, so they have someone they can rely on to get what they need.”

Terry said she was supportive of the students’ desire to start an organization, but told them they would have to take the lead.

“And boy did they!” she said. “We completed all of the paperwork last semester and got officially approved through the university in November.”

Terry said they met with Sarah Drake, dietitian at Aramark.

“Aramark was supportive of our mission to alleviate hunger in our local area and agreed to donate any leftover food from the dining halls to Hunger Jacks so we can take the food to GODTEL here in Nacogdoches,” Terry said. “On Friday, March 7, Aramark donated 80 pounds of food to Hunger Jacks.”

The group, which currently has 17 members, immediately delivered the food to the downtown homeless shelter.

“We have support from other local businesses too, like Fuzzy’s Taco Shop and Morning Glory Natural Foods,” Terry said.

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