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Howard Students Come Together to Tackle Food Insecurity in D.C.

Howard University students gathered on Feb. 17 in the College Hall South multipurpose room for a volunteer service event hosted by COAS HUSA senator Jayda Peets.

COAS HUSA Senator Jayda Peets, directing volunteers. Photo courtesy of  Stevens Leconte.

Howard University students gathered on Feb. 17 in the College Hall South multipurpose room for a volunteer service event hosted by COAS HUSA senator Jayda Peets. The event partnered with COAS Council, COFA Council and SOC Council. Students packed 1,000 lunch bags for community led organization Martha’s Table to help combat food insecurity within Washington, D.C.

Peets, a junior political science and Spanish major and Russian minor, organized the event through her past “Truth and Service” legislation as COAS HUSA senator. The legislation dedicated funding to community service events such as this one. 

“This volunteer event was extremely important to have here because food insecurity in D.C. is absolutely insane. Of course, it’s just a sad case that we have all over the world and especially in our country when it doesn’t need to be an issue, but specifically here in D.C. Food insecurity is something that we’re faced with every single day,” Peets said.

Food insecurity has been a prevalent issue in the D.C. region with more than 400,000 people being food insecure. Those numbers have spiked since the COVID-19 pandemic surged throughout the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, adding nearly 250,000 people to those who were already food insecure.

“Depending on where you go to class, we see homeless people on our campus, camped out in Banneker [Recreation Center] every single day, in the winter freezing their butts off, in the summer just hot with no food or asking. So, I think that it’s really important to give back to a university and to a city that gives so much to us already as far as some housing and an education. We need to make sure that we’re taking a break from our studies and making that time to give back to our community, give back to our environment,” Peets proceeded. 

Many Howard University students were very happy to volunteer, including Amariah Simmons, freshman political science major. Simmons saw the promotion of this event on an Instagram page and made it a priority to attend.

“I saw it was an opportunity to give back to the community and I really love volunteering. I just thought it would be refreshing to see a bunch of Howard students just come together and work towards a common goal,” Simmons said when explaining why she decided to volunteer.  

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Peets made sure that this event was a way to bring the student body together to help the community.

“Volunteering is something that everyone can do, everyone can come out and volunteer. It wasnt specific to gender or sexual oreitnation or preference or class or school. It was everybody that is a Howard University student can come out and volunteer,” Peets said. 

Martha’s Table is a community-led nonprofit organization, dedicated to helping the Washington, D.C. community. Their mission is to support children, family and communities through their programs dedicated to education, family resources/engagement, health and wellness. 

Peets regularly volunteers at the Martha’s Table in her area, and holds the organization to a high esteem.

“You know the organization specifically has a really great cause, they don’t turn anybody away. You don’t need to present your tax forms or your form of income which can really deter a lot of specifically lower income immigrants away.  They take in everybody and so I wanted to give more back to the organization, not just as one volunteer, but using my position on campus to bring in a mass amount of product and donation and help the people of our campus help the people of D.C.,” Peets said. 

Students left the volunteer event inspired and glad that they were able to make a difference within the D.C. community, all while being able to come together to work towards a common goal. 

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“Just seeing the numbers, how many people showed up and seeing what we accomplished was a lot of food that we packed…After you help, give back to the community it makes you feel good about yourself,” Simmons said. 

This volunteer event was only one of many, as Peets plans on doing many more, such as clothing drives, including a community service event exactly like this one in mid April. 

Copy edited by Jasper Smith 

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