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Welcome to “Hunger Bites!”

We are pleased to officially launch “Hunger Bites,” a special report on issues related to hunger in northeastern Pennsylvania.

Students in COMM 224 spent the semester reporting on issues of hunger. From left: Joseph Petro, Megan McGraw, Owen Karoscik, Vince Mecca, Molly Boylan, Victoria Garafola, Vikki Hartt, Elysabethe Brown, Meghan O’Hara, Mandy Scritchfield, Shalon Corrigan and Ashley Shamro. Absent from photo: Natasha Lee. Photo Credit: Dr. Lindsey Wotanis

To learn more about this special curricular project, which is the result of the efforts of  Marywood University undergraduate students in Dr. Lindsey Wotanis’ COMM 224: Electronic Newsgathering Seminar Spring 2012 course, please click the “About” tab.

We would like to extend special thanks to those who helped this project come to fruition:

  • Dr. Joanne Christaldi, assistant professor of nutrition and dietetics at Marywood University
  • Sr. John Michele Southwick, assistant director of campus ministry at Marywood University
  • St. Francis of Assisi Soup Kitchen, Scranton, PA
  • Dunmore Elementary Center, Dunmore PA
  • Holly Dastalfo, graphic design major, for creating our Hunger Bites logo
  • All community leaders and local residents who served as sources and allowed us to tell their stories

Thanks for visiting.  To find out more about how Marywood University fights hunger, and how you can help, visit Marywood University Campus Ministry.

**While you’re here, check out this special print spread that ran in the May 2012 edition of The Wood Word, Marywood University’s campus newspaper.  The spread was designed and produced by Vincent Mecca in partial fulfillment of his senior capstone project for COMM 451: Coordinating Seminar in Communication Arts.  Click the image below to view the spread.**

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Featured Blog Post #10: My experiences with writing and researching hunger in NEPA

By Meghan O’Hara, junior English major

This is the most rewarding project I have ever been a part of.

I’m not going to deny that sometimes I wanted to quit or just hand in a zero for a class assignment because I was struggling or couldn’t find the things that I needed. Sometimes I felt that I had too much on my shoulders to finish properly.  How could I handle writing about such and important topic in a way that can be understood and heard by all, while also finishing up other class assignments and extra-curricular activities? But, I continued because I knew that my research and my articles would make a difference in peoples lives and would bring attention to an important issue.

I have written articles in the past, usually about local happenings in Scranton, and while they were important to write, I feel that the article that I wrote for this class I am particularly proud of. I believe that this is the most effort I have put toward a class assignment in my entire college career, granted the fact that I had the entire semester to work on it. I wasn’t just handing in a paper to a teacher to get a grade; this is much more important than a silly grade.  This article is about educating and bringing awareness to Hunger in Northeast Pennsylvania.

I feel like I grew a lot as a person during this project. There was a lot more self-reliance, even though we worked in a group. I had to contact people outside of Marywood for interviews, which was a bit nerve-racking at first but, it definitely helped me with my independence. It also made me feel confident because I was able to achieve this on my own. I believe that the independence and confidence I gained through this class will help me achieve whatever goals I set in my future career.

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Featured Blog Post #9: Follow me

By Mandy Scritchfield, freshman communication arts major

I have so much that I have learned from this past semester that will stick with me for the rest of my life. Throughout the semester I have done research and conducted interviews and watched my article piece together. It has been such a beautiful experience.

I have learned so much in such a small frame of time. For my individual project, I wrote my first article, ever. It was a tough experience because there is so much to be done. Gathering the information, crediting the sources, doing interviews, editing and making it all come together as one. It feels so rewarding though, and it’s only the first of many other articles to come, I’m sure.

Although the books have taught me plenty, nothing has taught me more than really getting out there and meeting people who live out what I have been researching these past few months. I had to pleasure of interviewing many helpful people, like a single foster mom, who ended up becoming my main source for my article. I never imagined that my story would come out the way that it has, but I’m so happy it did.

There were many websites that I came across during my research and though I could not make use of them all, I still found the information that I learned interesting. One provided many statistics about the foster care system (www.angelsfoster.org) and I encourage you visit the site if this topic is of interest to you.

I am very excited for our class website to come out so everyone can see all of the hard work that we have put into this since January. I may be just getting into this journalism business, but I hope that you’ll follow me and my progress throughout my next three years of college. Because this article is only the first of many others to come.

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Featured Blog Post #8: Never judge

By Vikki Hartt, junior communication arts major

Where does hunger start? That may be a controversial issue for some.  Does it start when you’re a child, a teen, an adult? The fact is hunger can happen ANYTIME in your life. Although you may have a job, home, and steady income one year, it doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed this stability for life.

As the conclusion of this project approaches, I have learned not to judge the people who are hungry because I may have had a different opinion in my head of the person, but in reality they are all people that are equal and in need of help.

With the recession going on now, some people who have had great jobs and steady incomes are being laid off and forced to give up their life styles, losing their homes, cars, and eventually nutrition. Hunger isn’t something you can just run away from.

This is a similar case to the man I referred to in my last post. He had a job, a wife, and kids, but he was laid off and lost everything. Some people may assume that a person that is hungry has most likely been hungry and poor for the majority of their life, but a majority of the people that are hungry in America were able to feed themselves and their children at one point.

The children are also affected with this situation. Some children have grown up in a comfortable environment, then torn from their normal lives and forced to cope with different experiences and environments because their parents have been laid off their jobs and can’t afford the life they once lived.

According to WHO, a child’s major growth and development are in the first eight years of the child’s life. This means it is crucial for these children to have proper nutrition so they can grow and develop both physically and mentally.

It’s important to be open minded when you think of someone hungry try not to judge or be close minded because you don’t know the circumstances that made them go to a soup kitchen, or visit the food bank to feed their children. People of all different backgrounds and ethnicity turn to different food banks and soup kitchens for nutrition they can’t provide for themselves.

Further reading

Children go Hungry

Helpful information for those in need

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Featured Blog Post #7: Same beginning, different outcomes

By Vincent Mecca, senior communication arts major

For this week’s blog entry, I am going to stray off from an informational post to a personal and emotional piece inspired by an encounter I had during my hunger research.

While researching hunger, my group (Social Stigma and Stereotypes) visited the St. Francis of Assisi Soup Kitchen in Scranton, PA.  We were encouraged by staff to sit down with strangers and have a meal with them and listen to their stories.

Unfortunately, the table I sat at did not have people willing to talk to me very much.  From what many of them were talking about, each and every one of them was in some kind of struggle.  Curse words and nasty phone calls were made while I was sitting with them, as well as derogatory comments from one gentlemen to a woman.

Amongst all this, I locked eyes with a girl for a moment, and then looked away.  Moments later, she approached my table, and I could now see her clearer as she greeted someone sitting at my table.  I could see she appeared to be pregnant, but more shockingly; I knew her.

The girl said “Hi, you look familiar.” And I agreed.  We figured out that we had both attended the same high school, only she didn’t graduate as I had.

The juxtaposition of us two grown-up high school students was heartbreaking when I thought about it.

  1. We had both attended the same high school
  2. Received the same education
  3. Grew up in the same vicinity

But her outcome was that she was at the soup kitchen receiving aid…while I was looking to assist the soup kitchen.

How did our lives end up so much differently? It brought me to the heartbreaking realization that regardless of where you start out, everyone is susceptible to becoming food insecure.

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Featured Blog Post #6: 30 hour famine

By Molly Boylan, junior English major

For the past 2 months, I’ve been toying with the idea of putting myself in the position of a food insecure person. Well, this past weekend, February 24- 25, I finally took the first step.

I did a 30 hour famine. Yes, you read that right. I willingly gave up food for 30 hours! My church youth group, where I volunteer, does a 30 hour famine each year to raise awareness and donations for a chosen cause. This year they were raising money to help provide aid in junction with the 410 Bridge for students in Karagoto, Kenya. It was told to me that students in the classroom normally share textbooks between 12 student. Which means not everyone is able to do their homework or study for tests because the book can’t be divided 12 ways.

So, juice and water were my 2 new best friends over  Friday and Saturday. Eating nothing for an extended amount of time was quite an experience, so I thought I would take my readers on the journey with me. The following is a video journal I kept throughout the 30 hours. Luckily, at the end of the time we were all able to eat and enjoy food again. However, the reality is that many people in NEPA don’t get that as an option.

-Enjoy! (please bear with the video, it was my first time making one)

30 Hour Famine video journal
(this will take you to Youtube to view the video)

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Featured Blog Post #5: “Stereotypes are devices for saving a biased person the trouble of learning…”

By Elysabethe Brown, sophomore communication arts major

When I was younger my family didn’t have a lot of money. With three other sisters, a stay at home mom, and my dad working as a pastor, things were pretty tight sometimes. I remember getting hand me downs from my older sisters (something I was really not a fan of). We didn’t have the newest video game systems like a lot of my friends had (see? I don’t even know the names of said “video game systems” because they were so far out of my reach). And my mom occasionally had to say no to stuff that I wanted to buy. But I never worried about where my food would come from. I have never had the experience of waking up and wondering what I would eat or where we would go to get food. And with 48.8 million Americans living in food insecure households in 2010 alone, I can’t imagine the embarrassment that so many people have to face.  The guilt of someone having to stand  in line to get food from a soup kitchen on their lunch break. Or the shame that a parent must feel while loading up their car with free food from a food pantry.

While doing some research about hunger the other day I came across an article that talked about the effects that hunger and poverty have in the lives of children. It said that chronic stress is a result of living in poverty and being food insecure. I believe that a lot of this stress comes from dealing with their peers. When I was younger I constantly tried to hide the fact that my family didn’t have a lot of money. Even though none of my friends were by any means wealthy,( a lot of them were just like me!) I remember lying about certain things to to conceal the truth. I can’t believe the amount of stress I had when lying to my friends. First of all, I felt guilty. Secondly, I was always contradicting myself. Thirdly, I just didn’t understand why my lies couldn’t be reality-this was probably the most stressful one to me!

Living in a middle class family, getting food whenever I wanted, wearing hand-me-downs, going to Disney World every year for vacation, and having my parents tell me “no” once in a while is by no means considered “poverty.” But still, I felt stress at such a young age because I wanted to measure up to (and maybe even above) my friends. If I felt this way living in a middle class home I cannot even begin to imagine how people feel when they really are in poverty.

As I said before my group is doing “Social Stigma.”  This is something I am so interested in. I often wonder if the stereotypes we hear about are even true. I am willing to do the research and learn for myself the truth. So keep reading and find out with me!