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Featured Blog Post #4: Social Stigma

By Vincent Mecca, senior communication arts major

In our class, our research has been divided up into three groups, each pertaining to a different aspect of hunger.  My group is the group dealing with social stigmas in regards to hunger recipients.  Specifically, we will be researching factors such as the social connotation that go along with hunger, opinions the public has of food stamps and their use, stereotyping and generalizations of recipients, and misconceptions of obesity and hunger.

According to endhungerinamerica.org, up to 70 percent of Americans are at risk for hunger.  This isn’t because they have been receiving welfare for generations, but that one thing can go wrong in their lives which puts a financial strain on the household, thus, forcing them to seek aid.  About 46.1 million people are now participating in food stamp programs due to joblessness and a feeble economy, but this isn’t to say that these people don’t need this aid.  Only 1% of “fraud” occurs through the system, but who is to say that these people are all committing fraud? Or do they just have circumstances that make them ineligible when in reality, they need the assistance.

It is troubling that through this 1%, 750 million dollars lost. Another concern is “Trafficking,“ which occurs when beneficiaries sell their stamps to retailers and/or individuals over social networking sites or websites such as eBay.  There are many concerns dealing with fraud, but it is always important to remember that someone’s circumstance may not be that simple.  However, it is extremely important to weed out those who absolutely do not need aid, as that money could be spent towards those who do.

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Featured Blog Post #3: Research Findings

By Megan McGraw, senior communication arts major

Hunger is an issue.

When I say this, I’m not speaking lightly by any means. This isn’t a scripted PSA statement asking you to donate a few dollars to cause “X” or organization “A.”

After looking at hunger statistics, the number of people suffering from food insecurity in Pennsylvania alone is startling. By clicking the image below, you will be taken to the source of the statistics.

According to Feeding America, the number of the food insecurity rate is 13.5%. In addition, 20.9% of the children in Pennsylvania are facing food insecurity as well.

To put this percentage into perspective, our state population is 12,516,596 living, breathing, human beings. This equates to at least 2,628,485 children alone coping with food insecurity in the lovely state of Pennsylvania.

The state should be outraged! We should be outraged! For living in a 1st world country, this shouldn’t be acceptable. Hunger shouldn’t be an issue. These are only the statistics for one state; I can’t even begin to imagine the numbers on a national level.

One would think from the number of organizations working against hunger, it would not be such an issue.

This is just one of the things I’ve discovered from my research in class so far.

In addition, there are a number of websites and resources presenting a number of statistics; there is a definite lapse in current information (I’m talking 2006-2007 for last reported dates). The Feeding America website seems to hold the best up-to-date information on just a small portion of hunger statistics.

While there are a number of organizations and resources to quell the hunger rate, they are not easy to understand and the ease of access is limited. It isn’t surprising that people eligible for programs may not be utilizing said programs.

There needs to be some sort of reform, something needs to be done.

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Featured Blog Post #2: Hunger Talk

By Molly Boylan, junior English major

Meet Dr. Joanne Christaldi,Assistant Professor in Nutrition and Dietetics (left) and Sister John Michele Southwick,Assistant Director of Campus Ministry(right), the Marywood staff that know hunger.

Well, its official, hunger does exist in Northeast Pennsylvania. The Comm 224 class was able to work through these problems with the help of the guest speakers Sr. John Michele Southwick and Dr. Christaldi.

To me it is odd to walk around without even realizing that the people I pass on the sidewalk had to miss their breakfast, so that their children could eat, or that people have to chose between electricity or food.

Sr. John and Dr. Christaldi highlighted the major need of those who are affected by poverty. Sr. John spoke about the fact that there is never enough to go around, “Food pantries constantly say our shelves are empty,” she said.

Since March 2010, Dr. Christaldi is working on a USDA $100,000 grant to do a “needs assessment in Lackawanna County.” This survey’s the county to “find if there are food insecurity in certain pockets of the county for them to target their efforts in those places,” she said.

Also, a major point that Dr. Christaldi made was that the most common food that hungry people receive lack nutrition, which would cause these people to be deficient in their nutrition.  I must admit that I have donated to these kinds of food drives, but rarely do I look at the nutrition facts on the cans I donate.

Another cause for the problem of hunger is where people are getting their food from. Transportation for some people is not easy to come by, which would make them only be able to go grocery shopping to someplace in walking distance of their home–places that likely do not always carry the most nutritious foods.

Sr. John brought perspective on the food situation close to home and what Marywood is doing about it. She brought up some insightful questions to get the conversation going about hunger that will continue to be a thread through our classes to come.

Marywood & Hunger:

  • There are 4 boxes around campus to collect “Nutritious foods” for local food banks. (nutritious being the operative word)
  • MU does have the option for students to volunteer for Meals-on-Wheels.
  • Dr. Christaldi is continuing her research for the USDA grant
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Featured Blog Post #1: Hunger to make a change in NEPA

This semester, students will be voting on each other’s blog posts to see who will get the featured post!  Check out our very first featured post!

Hunger to make a change in NEPA

By: Joe Petro, sophomore communication arts major

The state of hunger in Northeastern Pennsylvania has become so apparent that it can no longer be ignored.

Many residents of Northeastern Pennsylvania identify that the reason for poverty and hunger is directly linked to the unemployment or economic crisis that our country is facing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor 7.9 percent of the labor force in Pennsylvania is currently unemployed.  As a result of this families of Northeastern Pennsylvania find it difficult to provide food or financial stability for their family.

The preconceived notion by many is that to be “hungry” you must be homeless or poverty stricken to the extent of needing a large amount of help. However, this is not simply the only form of hunger that plagues Northeastern Pennsylvania and our country. According to the Pennsylvania Hunger Action Center, 5.7 percent of all households in Pennsylvania is food insecure with hunger. This makes it apparent that you may still be hungry even though you are still making ends meet. Families make an effort to tighten their belts, applying for assistance, and eliminating luxuries they can live without.

Although a great deal of us is too proud to admit it we face these same exact hardships in our personal lives. What makes it more astounding is that as a community we band together to try to supply those in more impoverished situations with the services they need. However, how beneficial or realistic is this support system we have devised as a community? This may seem counterproductive because those who need the most support are gaining it from those who need it as well. Furthermore, our government stands by while we struggle and uses the resources they have to enhance other aspects of our economic crisis.

In this course I hope to develop my convergent journalism skills in the classroom and in the field. I want to explore the “one man band” form of journalism and newsroom journalism as a class. My main focus is to enhance and polish my professional journalistic style and learn new techniques that will further my career in the future.

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Bringing the truth to light

Did you know …

That in 2011,  The Weinberg Northeast Regional Food Bank provided emergency food assistance to about 8,300 different people  in northeast Pennsylvania in any given week?

That nearly 14% of Pennsylvanians suffer from food insecurity, according to Feeding America?

And that nationally,  one in six kids lives in a household with food insecurity, which means they do not always know where or when they will find their next meal, also according to Feeding America?

You may have heard some of these statistics in the infrequent reports on the local and national news that spring up around the holidays, when most people have heightened awareness of those going without a traditional Thanksgiving feast.  But hunger is a 24/7, 365 days a year problem in the United States–and in northeast Pennsylvania.

The student journalists in COMM 224: Electronic Newgathering Seminar will study and report on hunger in northeast Pennsylvania to help bring the truth to light–that people in our own communities deal with hunger and food insecurity on a daily basis.

This blog will feature the fruits of their labors in mid-April, when they will post their final reports on not only the status but also the face of hunger in northeast Pennsylvania.

Until then, follow their blogs.  Students will reflect on their experiences in this course, on the challenges they face when reporting on this issue, and on what they, too, are learning about the realities of hunger in our communities.

Links to the students’ individual blogs can be found under the “Student Blogs” tab.  And, after each blog post deadline, we’ll feature one or two of the most intriguing blogs for you here on this site as we lead up to the launch of the students’ reporting in April.

So, stay tuned.  Watch for the first blog posts next week.  And, follow us on Facebook.  Use the “Like” tab on the right sidebar of your screen.

Dr. Wotanis