Ichabods In Depth

Published Nov. 14, 2012

Homelessness Awareness Week strives to inspire empathy, action

Oxfam America logoAngelique Flinn has one major goal for this year’s Homelessness Awareness Week on campus. The Washburn senior wants her fellow students and community members to realize those who are homeless or hungry are individual human beings. They are not labels.

“Society really likes to label,” said Flinn, a senior and dual major in biology and human services from Topeka. She is president of Washburn’s Oxfam America Club.

Several of this year’s events are focused on connecting directly with people who are homeless or hungry, including Tuesday’s Faces of Homelessness panel, the Oxfam America Hunger Banquet, scheduled for 6 p.m. tonight in the Washburn Room, Memorial Union and Friday’s opportunity to serve a Thanksgiving style dinner to Topekans in need.

The Oxfam dinner will use luck-of-the-draw to determine where each participant will sit and what he or she will eat.

“We don’t have the opportunity to choose if we’re born into prosperity or poverty,” Flinn said. The hunger banquet is meant to mirror global society. Two speakers will discuss hunger, homelessness and food scarcity in Topeka during the dinner.

The Hunger Banquet is free. Donations, either cash or items for Friday’s meal such as corn, stuffing mix, rolls, mashed potatoes or deserts, are encouraged.

Homelessness Awareness Week on campus has grown by several events this year, including the panel, a Weigh Your Waste event and a screening of the documentary “Dive! Living off America’s Waste.” Flinn said the Oxfam America Club and its sponsors, who work with Learning in the Community, are hoping the new events educate and encourage empathy and action.

Consider this: based on the food waste collected in the cafeteria from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday, Flinn calculated that Washburn throws away 2,400 pounds of purchased food in a year.

“That is a lot of food,” Flinn said emphatically.