February is more than just Black History Month. It is also Canned Food Month, but for some reason, this has never received much attention, to my knowledge. I learned this by doing some research, and it seems like it should be something also learned about in schools.
Canned Food Month offers many possibilities for learning, teaching and helping. In fact, even at ISU, we don’t necessarily have a lot of areas that could offer learning activities, but there are other options for us older students. Dorms and RSOs could try to raise the most cans of food to donate to shelters around the area. Students who live off-campus could easily (presumably) go to food shelters and donate their time, if they couldn’t get the funds together to donate cans themselves. Student teachers could even try to work in a unit on this, if the schools that they work at allow them to. Or if a group of friends want to get together at someone’s apartment to watch the Olympics, instead of everyone bringing chips and salsa (although it is really delicious), guests could be asked to bring a canned food item to donate.
The reality is that there are so many hungry people in this world, and even though most of us are only college students, that doesn’t mean we can’t do anything about it. Yes, we often claim to be “broke college students,” but in reality, if we were actually starving while we were away at school, we could probably ask our parents for help or sell some of the clothes we don’t wear or items we don’t use. We cannot afford a lot of things, even those of us with jobs, but we are still better off than a lot of people.
Illinois ranked as one of the states with the highest unemployment in 2012, according to the Feeding America website. While we are not in the top 10 states for household food insecurity, this does not mean that we cannot use improvement. There is always room to get better and to grow. As long as we actually make people more aware of the issue, working to combat this issue should slowly improve.
What is essential to realize about this problem is that it will not go away over night nor will it substantially improve if people begin caring throughout the month of February. Instead, what needs to be assessed is how to deal with this long-term. The education should begin in schools, and it could easily be taught in February. In fact, because I went to a Catholic grade school, we had rice bowls for the longest time. These were brought home and we would put money in them throughout Lent. If the rice bowl were to be used in children’s homes throughout the month of February, the money accumulated could then be used to buy canned foods for local food shelters, and perhaps this would help educate people — both children and adults — on the impact that simple meals can have for those who are going hungry. But this passion about helping others should carry on throughout the year. One month cannot solve such large problems like this one, but it can certainly help.
Grace Johnson is a senior publishing major and columnist for The Vidette. Any questions or comments regarding her column can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.