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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas Wiertella April 30, 2024

NMU students go hungry to fight famine

Marquette Ending Hunger is fighting famine with a 24-hour fasting event to raise awareness about the impacts of hunger starting Friday, Nov. 14.

Beginning at 6 p.m. students will have an opportunity to participate in multiple aspects of the event until Saturday, Nov. 15, such as a film, the TV6 Canathon, a 24-hour fast, presentations from local leaders about the local effects of hunger and sharing a meal together after the 24-hour period is over.

Lauren Larsen, senior speech, language and hearing sciences major and the president and founder of Marquette Ending Hunger, had the idea for the organization after a discussion with her professor Sara Potter about homeless and hungry children in the city of Marquette. At that time, in 2012, there were 31 homeless children in Marquette, Larsen said.

“That number was astounding to me, and made me realize that if there were that many homeless children, there must be so many more homeless adults,” Larsen said. “I started researching and once I started researching, I realized that I was being called to do something about the issue.”

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Larsen officially started the organization in fall 2013. The organization works to raise awareness about the situation of poverty, hunger and homelessness in Marquette and the surrounding area while fundraising and volunteering to lessen the impact of hunger in the community.

Sara Potter, a communications studies instructor, said the reason she took an interest in local hunger issues and began speaking about it in class was because she had once struggled to put food on the table for her family.

“I used to think that it was bad parenting or bad money management that led families to these problems, but there I was, a great parent, with a salary from a job I consider prestigious,” Potter said. “We budget and try not to over spend, yet we’ve found ourselves struggling enough to use government programs to help put food on our table. I was food insecure.”

Potter said some reports show the food insecurity issue in Marquette to affect one in four families. Potter said one way to help solve the issue is by encouraging state and federal representatives to work to improve the government programs that help families put food on the table.

“It needs to be solved, people need to eat and we need to fix it year round, not just during the holiday when we’re all feeling more generous,” Potter said.

The facts she found in her own research surprised her and coupled with her own experiences, she proposed the idea to her argumentation class as a topic for a class project. Potter said Larsen became very interested in the topic and pursued it in class and out of class.

“If we work together to fight hunger, we’ll get noticed and we can impact those around us and create change in the community,” Potter said. “I’m proud of Lauren and the whole organization. They are civic minded and compassionate. They understand the importance and what’s at stake and are stepping forward to try to help.”

Lindsey Lieck, junior political science major and vice president of the organization, said the event is about bringing the community together to fight an issue any person could face.

“Everyone knows someone or is someone that suffers from hunger and people attending this event will have an opportunity to support their fellow citizens,” Lieck said.

Lieck said one in six Americans suffers from struggles with a type of hunger known as food insecurity, which means they don’t know where their next meal will come from or when it will be.

“The issue is all around us whether or not we choose to see it,” Lieck said. “This event is important because it forces participants to experience hunger and gives them the tools to fight it.”

The event organized several initiatives around campus leading up to the event. Participants who choose to fast are encouraged to seek out donations for each hour they abstain from eating to raise money for the organization’s efforts.

Can drive donation boxes have been placed in all on-campus housing buildings with a competition to motivate students to donate. The house with the most donations will win a pizza party, courtesy of Marquette Ending Hunger, Larsen said. Donation boxes can also be found in any each academic building for those who live off-campus.

Another goal of the event is to raise awareness about the TV6 Canathon. Larsen said this canathon is largely responsible for filling the food pantries in the area and NMU’s involvement each year contributes to its success.

The organization also began a social media challenge to raise awareness about the event. Much like the ALS ice bucket challenge, those challenges by friends on social media have 24 hours to make the most creative meal they can with the ingredients they have in their home and share it online with #shareyourfoodchallenge.

The NMU Fights Famine kick-off meeting will begin at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 14 in the Gant/Spalding lobby. At noon on Saturday, Nov. 15 the participants will meet in the Peter White Lounge to begin their TV6 Canathon can drive efforts around the community. The event will end with a skillbuilder at 3 p.m. in the Brule Room in the University Center. Anyone is welcome to participate in any part of the event this weekend, Larsen said

“This organization is driven by a contagious passion,” Lieck said. “Being involved with Marquette Ending Hunger is an extremely rewarding experience and NMU Fights Famine participants will not regret spending their Saturday with Marquette Ending Hunger.”

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