Hunger and Homelessness launch another Brandeis Be Our Guest

September 25, 2015

Brandeis students are invited to donate their guest meals to Waltham’s homeless community as part of the sixth-annual Brandeis Be Our Guest Program through Tuesday, Sept. 29.

The program, run by Hunger and Homelessness Coordinators Rose Wallace ’16, Max Parish ’16, Lily Elderkin ’18 and Mira McMahon ’18, has already collected 262 guest meals, as they work to reach their annual average of about 600 meals per academic school year.

Parish refers to the three- to four-week time slot for collecting meals as the “guest-meal harassment period,” in which members of Hunger and Homelessness petition Brandeis students to donate their future wasted meals.

In previous years, student volunteers helped transport the food from Usdan Dining Hall kitchen to the Community Day Center of Waltham, a homeless shelter located around the corner on 16 Felton Street, according to Elderkin. “They’re really generous,” Elderkin said about the Usdan workers who put together the food to be donated.

The 600 meals donated in previous years “amount to enough food to feed about a dozen folks one meal every week for the entire academic year,” Parish said.

Waltham Group has been around since 1966, however, the Brandeis Be Our Guest Program was launched five years ago by a student named Elizabeth Stoker ’13 who realized the potential for helping the homeless, as she observed an immense amount of unused guest meals at Brandeis go to waste.

Both the wasted food and her passion for helping the homeless led Stoker to forge a deal with the campus-dining provider in which she and the coordinators of Hunger and Homelessness could collect students’ donated guest meals. In turn, the dining provider agreed to donate one to two pounds of food for every guest meal collected from a Brandeis student.

Since its founding, the program has gained widespread popularity across campus and has received positive feedback and results. Parish strongly believes that the program benefits the Waltham community, as many of the homeless members they serve do not know where their next meal will come from.

“Our ultimate goal as an organization is to empower those who endure poverty to get back on their feet and achieve a sustainable lifestyle,” said Parish. “We can’t possibly expect a person to maintain a full time job or even think about paying rent if he or she can’t even afford a plate of food for the day.”

In addition to providing meals to those who experience food insecurity, Hunger and Homelessness also provides case management services to the guests at the Waltham Day Center and trains student volunteers at the beginning of each semester.

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