Poverty Awareness Week raises awareness at Fremd

Jessica Kim, Staff Writer

Fremd social studies department hosted the second annual Poverty Awareness Week from April 13 to April 17, a time dedicated to educating students on poverty in the Palatine community as well as around the world.

Social studies teacher Courtney Wilhelm hopes that Poverty Awareness Week helped educate students about poverty and be motivate them to serve others.

“I live by the motto, ‘When you know better, you do better,’” Wilhelm said. “Our hope this week was that students will use these eye opening experiences for good. To be inspired enough to act upon the injustices that we see. Simple steps like donating to local food pantries and shelters, giving our time to the service of others, and using our right to vote can truly make a difference.”

The week began with a photo exhibit in the auditorium hallway, including pictures from What the World Eats, a book by photojournalist Peter Menzel on what families around the world eat in a typical week.

A cereal drive benefiting the Palatine Food Pantry, which feeds 400 families a month, was also held throughout the week. Students and staff members donated a total of 1152 cereal boxes, exceeding the goal of 1000. Social studies teacher Amanda Ganas’ 5th period AP Psychology class collected the most boxes out of all of the social studies classes, with a total of 128 boxes.

In the middle of the week, about 100 students attended a hunger banquet, an event that is hosted by high schools and universities nationally. At the hunger banquet, students were assigned to Chipotle meal portions of high-income, medium-income or low-income families. They then discussed how economic inequality affects lifestyle and stereotypes associated with poverty.

Junior Lucky Nanduri discusses how the hunger banquet inspired her to make a difference in the world.

“It was very eye-opening for me because we always discuss poverty that is happening in far, distant countries, but here we discussed it at the local level, how even at Fremd there are numerous people in poverty,” Nanduri said. “More than learning something new, I realize that I am fortunate and that I should use everything that I have for the better and help eliminate poverty.”

At Fremd, about 13 percent of students participate in the free and reduced lunch program. Chicago Public Schools provide free meals to all students because of the high percentage of students living at poverty level.

Students took part in helping people living in poverty in other countries through a service night at Feed My Starving Children on Thursday. Altogether, Fremd packed 19,872 meals, enough to feed 54 children for a year.

Students also had a chance to watch the movie “Homestretch.” a documentary about three homeless teens in Chicago facing the challenges of being homeless, while struggling to stay in high school and graduate.

Sophomore Mohammed Mateen believes that the Fremd community’s giving and caring nature makes a real difference in alleviating poverty in the community. He hopes Poverty Week will continue to find more ways to raise awareness.

“We could have more weeks like last week,” Mateen said. “It will be easy to raise money for poverty too because there are many good students that are willing to donate clothes and cereal boxes like we did before.”