Penn State Alumna Hungry for Change
Guest Blog post by Christina Moresi, educator, and Community Service Director for the Philadelphia Chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association
As an educator, I know the profound effects hunger has on my students’ health and education. It’s a distraction. It hurts their achievement. It’s the reason why I made fighting hunger one of my first initiatives when I became the Community Service Director of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association in 2011.
Our Chapter volunteers with Philabundance often and holds an annual food drive and fundraiser. This past year we were challenged by a long-time board member to do more. Deeming our next volunteer day “Fill Philabundance,” we teamed up with The Hope Express, a fellow alumni-organization, to enlist 44 Penn Staters to sort and pack 13,581 pounds of food!
This total was a record for our team, and the first time I truly understood the impact of our work because I, myself, was food insecure. Earlier changes in the School District of Philadelphia left me piecing together work as a contracted educator. As I taught low-income children to be sustainable by growing fresh food, I was doing the same. When the growing season ended, I was dependent on family to help me eat. Most weeks I didn’t eat much because the pain of asking for help was worse than the pain of hunger. I ate pasta to feel full but the low-nutritional content of an unbalanced diet took its toll on my body and, with that, it took my emotional and mental health as well.
The day we “filled” Philabundance marked a change in my life. I learned it’s okay to ask for help. I remembered that periods of struggle do not last forever. I recognized I had support through friends, families and organizations like Philabundance.
No one knew I was leading our hunger relief event hungry, but food insecurity impacts everyone; there is someone in your life right now who needs an understanding friend and a healthy meal. Our event was a testament to the power of service, earning us the Penn State Alumni Association’s Outstanding Service Project Award. We felt this honor would be best shared with our community members, which is why we offered the award proceeds to Philabundance.
As someone who knows the physical and emotional effects of food insecurity, I thank Philabundance for being a beacon of hope and nourishment for our neighbors. I also encourage you to find a way to join us in the fight against hunger, especially since September is Hunger Action Month.