Oct 152008
Authors: Madeline Novey

Editor’s note: Tune in to the Collegian for a two-part series starting next Thursday that follows the stories of students participating in the Seven Days for Seven Dollars program.

For one week every year, CSU junior Travis Hall goes hungry, living on a dollar a day — by choice.

In 2006, Hall, needing to come up with a project for his honors seminar class, decided that Americans lead far too lavish lifestyles and devised a hands-on exploration of hunger. He and a classmate took seven days on $1 a day as 850 million people living in poverty do.

And starting today, about 75 CSU students and professors will join him in doing so in the third annual week-long endeavor.

“Throughout time and throughout the world, (Americans) have had it quite well,” Hall said. “This program is about taking a minute to step back, look at that privilege.”

Participants were educated on world hunger and briefed on the program at an orientation session Tuesday.

According to the World Hunger Education Service Web site, world agricultural efforts currently produce enough food to provide every person in the world with 2,720 kilocalories per day. This is equivalent to 136,000 meals at 2,000 calories a piece.

And yet, every day, an estimated 850 million people throughout the world go hungry and 25,000 adults and children die from hunger-related problems, according to the Web site for the World Food Programme, a United Nations agency that fights hunger on a global scale.

Starting today at 6 p.m., participants will eat only the $7 worth of food they purchased, until next Thursday, Oct. 23 at 6 p.m., when participants will come together for the annual Hunger Banquet to discuss the experience.

With the program in its third year, Hall saw a significant increase in the number of people who expressed interest in participating in the program that, Hall said, is committed to promoting awareness about hunger conditions in developing countries.

“I think it’s phenomenal to see this many people who want to get involved; it was always my goal to see (the program) get larger, and it’s neat to finally see that come to (fruition),” Hall said. “I’m excited, too, because if you think I have 75 names on the e-mail list, and those are 75 people who will get their friends involved – that multiplication effect is just really cool.”

Hall teamed up with Hartshorn Health Services dieticians to help participants build a “healthy” menu after past participants expressed concerns about not receiving necessary nutrients and fulfilling daily needs.

Hartshorn Health Center dietician Whitney Smith advised participants to spend their $7 only on food neccessities that best fulfill a person’s daily nutritional requirements and maintain a balanced menu.

Canned beans and sausage, peanut butter and jelly and evaporated milk topped the list of foods that provide a person with substantial calories and protein.

“I don’t want you to look at this as a contest” Hall said. “If you do this for two days and can’t do it anymore because you’re hungry, that’s fine. As long as you have learned something, that’s the important part.”

Last year, the program was individually driven, and students participated as they liked throughout the week, meeting up for the Hunger Banquet at the end of the seven days.

With the increase in interest and participation this time around, Hall recommended that participants get together in groups and work as allies to motivate each other to follow through with the program for the entire week.

“Being in a group will help me make it through to next Thursday,” said Theresa Gerdin, a freshman tourism major. “Me and my roommate are doing it together and we’re going to hide all the food.”

Hall’s passion for the people affected by world hunger is still present, he said, and he told participants to challenge themselves and their food consumption throughout the week.

Hall will lead his own group this week and will maintain the feat he took up three years ago.

“Having the conversation about hunger – it’s a different thing to talk about hunger in statistics, but imagine bringing the 100 billion people to this meeting and think about how the conversation should be different,” Hall said. “Let’s just go learn and make a change.”

Senior Reporter Madeline Novey can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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