October 14, 2021 | Betty A. Proctor | Internal Press Release
The Student Support Center at Chattanooga State Community College will sponsor its annual Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week event during October 18-21. This multi club, organization and department event was carefully planned out to engage and educate students, faculty, staff, and community members about the plight of hunger and homelessness in our area. “Young adult homelessness is a unique form of homelessness because young adults do not know that their situation is homeless,” shared Aslynn Price, a ChattState alum and founder of the 2019 event who has lived experience.
In addition to several service projects to support the Chattanooga area Food Bank, the Engineering department will sponsor a “CANstruction” activity that focuses on collecting canned goods for the Chattanooga State Tiger Cupboard, while the Student Support Center will recruit volunteers to make 150 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for homeless camps in Chattanooga to be distributed by Young Adult Action Board (YAAB) members. The Umbrella and Psychology clubs will sponsor a “Judgement free clothing swap” for individuals in need.
Community agencies will discuss available services and provide food stamp updates, better known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). Compelling student responses to hunger and homelessness will be recorded by Chattanooga State’s TV production class and the YAAB will sponsor a panel discussion about lived experiences, while the leadership class will collect donations and write notes of encouragement. “Not everyone has it as easy as going from A to B, some people have to go through more of the alphabet to get to where they need to be,” said Jacob Henley, a Chattanooga State sophomore who participated in the 2019 Hunger & Homelessness Day who has lived experience.
Tammy McDonough, coordinator of educational outreach programs and student homeless liaison, noted that college is challenging, and then when students must choose between buying textbooks or food, paying rent, or making a car payment it gets overwhelming and the desire to attend classes dissipates.
Defined as an individual who lacks a fixed, regular, adequate nighttime residence, more than half a million Americans are homeless according to a September report by the Council of Economic Advisers. In Chattanooga, the chief policy officer states that the city’s homeless population has quadrupled over the past year from approximately 320 to 1,200 individuals. At Chattanooga State, roughly 42% of students show signs of housing insecurity and 16% indicated homelessness since they started college. According to Hunger on Campus, 50% of community college students and 47% of four-year college students reported food insecurity. Since Chattanooga State’s Tiger Cupboard opened in 2018, more than 800 requests for food have been processed.
“The Tiger Cupboard, Helping Hands Emergency fund and community resources that the Student Support Center offers attempts to keep students from getting to the point of giving up on their hopes and dreams,” explained Ms. McDonough. “Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week gives students with lived experience a voice that validates their experiences and shows them that they belong at Chattanooga State.”
“It is inspirational to see the care our students have for fellow students and community members, triggering their involvement in helping to remove obstacles so all students can ‘learn without limits’ and thrive in our community,” stated Sandy Rutter, assistant vice president, Student Engagement & Success Support.
On October 21, closing out the weeklong educational awareness building activities, students, faculty, and staff may choose to ride a CARTA bus downtown and back to learn more about navigating bus routes and become more familiar with CARTA services. Chattanooga State and CARTA recently signed a rideshare agreement that allows students, faculty, and staff to ride free with a valid ChattState ID.
To become more aware of hunger and homelessness in our area, feel free to attend Chattanooga State’s event during Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, October 18-22. For more information, call the Student Support Center at (423) 697-4483 or visit their website.