The UCLA Volunteer Center Fellows are proud to award Hunger Project with the Fall 2015 Mongelli Award for Excellence and Civic Engagement.
Established in 1987, before its restart in 2012, Hunger Project works to address homelessness and hunger in the Greater Los Angeles area through services that provide immediate relief to the cycle of poverty.
To eliminate this cycle, Hunger Project works with a variety of populations loosely categorized into immediate relief, transitional housing, and at-risk youth. At the immediate relief sites, the organization of 60 volunteers and 15 board members works directly with currently homeless individuals on Skid Row to address urgent needs and provide basic supplies. At their transitional sites, they work with tenants of transitional housing facilities to provide intermediate support for previously homeless individuals. Finally, Hunger Project also targets local K-12 students and children whose families are classified as below the federal poverty level. This includes have inner-city high school students and younger children in transitional housing villages.
One of Internal Executive Director Jennifer Hseuh’s proudest achievements has been the growth in their SAT tutoring program throughout the past two years. Meeting with disadvantaged high school students from local communities, Hunger Project has provided academic help to students who “didn’t even know the difference between a CSU and a UC.” They set weekly SAT tutoring goals, encouraging positive mentor-mentee relationships, which allowed the group to work along individual students to reach a particular goal. Hseuh remarked that during her service she was able to realize “how much [she] had to learn from them….and to never take [her] own education for granted”
You can find Hunger Project working any day of the week, three to four times a week. Currently they visit the Westwood Transitional Village on Monday late afternoons/evenings, the Midnight Mission on Tuesday nights, Skid Row food packing and distribution events on weekends, and People Assisting the Homeless cooking events throughout the week.
This past year in particular, Hunger Project has focused on large-scale programming to engage more peers about homelessness and start a communal dialogue regarding the needs of those who are homeless. Last spring, the group was instrumental in Homelessness Awareness Week collaborations with Mobile Clinic Project at UCLA, Furnish the Homeless, Swipe Out Hunger, I.M.H.O.M.E., and Happy Feet Clinic. Homelessness Awareness Week focused on providing a nuanced, personal understanding of homelessness; aiming to not only to provide aid but also to evaluate and reassess how we can play a role in positively changing the crisis in the city. To continue this mission of large scale programming, Hunger Project also was a primary partner in the USAC Community Service Commission’s “Everybody Eats” campaign, tabling and spreading awareness of food insecurity both on and off-campus.
In the future, Hunger Project anticipates hosting their annual Hunger Banquet in Spring of 2016. This banquet, as in the past three years, will be a night of interactive simulations and community dialogue surrounding poverty, homelessness, and hunger. Hundreds of campus members, from students to faculty members to multiple nonprofits, are anticipated to come out for their largest public event.
The UCLA Volunteer Center Fellows wish to congratulate the Hunger Project at UCLA for receiving the Fall 2015 Mongelli Award for Civic Engagement.