Student organization looks to can hunger

Hunger is a problem that crosses all borders.

According to the World Health Organization, one child dies from hunger-related causes every five seconds. In the United States, one in every six people struggles with hunger, and in Illinois, at least one in every ten children does not get a sufficient amount of food.

One registered student organization, Students in Free Enterprise, is planning to do something about it.

The group, also know as SIFE, is composed of College of Business students who are using their skills to try and better the community. The RSO is part of the worldwide SIFE organization that holds competitions to help solve social problems such as hunger.

In the coming months, SIFE is planning on taking part in the Campbell’s “Let’s CAN Hunger” challenge. Their mission is twofold: collect food and raise hunger awareness.

To accomplish this goal, SIFE is planning three canned food drives throughout March and into April, and the group said it is trying to make it easy for students to donate.

The first collection is planned for Wednesday, March 3 at the “late night” stations in the campus residence halls. One will last from 6 to 10 p.m. at eChomps in Ikenberry Commons, and the other from 8 to 11 p.m. at Penn Station in Pennsylvania Avenue Residence Halls.

The main canned food drive is scheduled for April 2, and SIFE is planning on accepting donations outside of County Market, 331 E. Stoughton St., Champaign. All canned food donations will go to the Eastern Illinois Food Bank.

For students who do not face hunger problems, it is an opportunity to help their peers who are struggling with hunger.

“One in three people who receive assistance from Eastern Illinois Food Bank are under 15,” said Brittany McLean, SIFE’s project leader for the Let’s CAN Hunger event and freshman in Business.

McLean said SIFE will use facts like this to raise hunger awareness around campus. She said the RSO will chalk the Quad, hang up posters, and possibly buy advertising space on MTD buses in order to show students that hunger is a global problem as well as one that plagues the C-U community.

Arpit Kuvadia, SIFE president and junior in Business, said the group typically participates in 6 to 8 competitions similar to “Let’s CAN Hunger” each year against other national and international SIFE chapters.

However, Jennifer Koys, vice president of the group and junior in Business, said it’s not about winning competitions.

“Business skills can really be a vehicle for good, and that’s what SIFE is about,” Koys said. “It’s about making a difference.”

The group recently teamed up with Sam’s Club and Roland Realty for the “Enviornmental Sustainability Challenge,” participating in an energy audit of one of Roland’s apartment buildings and searching for ways to “go green,” Kuvadia said.

SIFE has also given presentations on interviewing skills and resume-building at women’s shelters in order to give women the tools to become better employees, Koys said.

Koys said SIFE hopes that by raising hunger awareness in the community, the project will have an effect that persists after the canned food drives end. It’s this lasting effect that SIFE members said the group strives for.

“We aren’t just doing community service,” Kuvadia said, “We’re actually helping to improve people’s quality of life.”