Special to The Sun
Poverty in Oklahoma is at a 10-year high, with more than 610,000 Oklahomans living below the poverty line and more than 80,000 children in Oklahoma County schools qualifying for free and reduced lunch.
The University of Central Oklahoma’s Volunteer and Service Learning Center will illustrate the impact of these realities during Poverty Awareness Week, Sept. 30 through Oct. 4.
The week will feature a series of interactive educational events as well as a new partnership with Rebuilding Together OKC, a nonprofit organization that builds homes for families in need.
“The whole week will be filled with great experiences and will serve as a good basis on which we can continue to address issues of poverty and hunger in Oklahoma,” said Eric Hemphill, coordinator of the Volunteer and Service Learning Center.
“In particular, the Rebuilding Together OKC projects are a great team-building opportunity for any student group, and are a hands-on way to make an impact while simultaneously addressing issues of poverty in our community. Students will get to meet the families who they are helping and learn a bit about why they are seeking help.”
The full listing of events is as follows:
• Hunger Simulations, noon, Sept. 30; 10 a.m., Oct. 1; 4:30 p.m. Oct. 2, Nigh University Center, third floor, Henry Bellmon Room: Participants will learn first-hand the challenges of getting proper nutrients while using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and food supplementations, like food pantries.
• Privilege Walks, 11 a.m., Oct. 1; 5:30 p.m., Oct. 2, NUC Henry Bellmon Room: In conjunction with the Hunger Simulations, this interactive program will help students gain an understanding of how privileged or unprivileged their upbringing was.
• Community Living Panel, 3 p.m., Oct. 3, NUC Henry Bellmon Room: Attendees will hear from community leaders whose daily work relates directly to poverty, hunger and malnutrition in Oklahoma.
• Rebuilding Together OKC, 1-5 p.m., Sept. 30, Oct. 1-2, various locations throughout Edmond and Oklahoma City: Participants will paint, install drywall, landscape and perform other tasks for Rebuilding Together OKC. Students will carpool to work site locations and should sign up for the builds online at www.bit.ly/UCORebuildingTogether.
• SNAP Challenge: Participants will live only on the funding that someone who uses SNAP Benefits would receive, roughly $4.50 per day. Participants may agree to do the challenge for as little or as long as they would like and will have the opportunity to blog about their experiences.
FOR MORE information, visit www.uco.edu/student-affairs/vslc, or contact Hemphill at 974-2621, or firstname.lastname@example.org.