The Hunger Project at UCLA is a student-run organization comprised of over sixty volunteers that aims to relieve homelessness in the Greater Los Angeles area. The organization’s mission is to not only provide basic aid to the populations facing homelessness, but to also help underserved members reintegrate into society by addressing the root causes of the issue. In addition, Hunger Project strives to end the stereotypes surrounding homelessness. At their People Assisting the Homeless (PATH) site, volunteers cook meals for residents and are able to listen to the residents’ narratives and life experiences. From these interactions, Hunger Project volunteers are able to share the stories with the UCLA community. Based upon this organization’s dedication and achievements this year, the UCLA Volunteer Center Fellows are proud to award The Hunger Project at UCLA with the Mongelli Award for Excellence in Civic Engagement for the Winter 2018 term.
The organization has multiple sites where they serve Los Angeles’s homeless population. On Mondays and Fridays, Hunger Project partakes in Monday Night Missions where they go to Skid Row to serve hot meals and sandwiches. On the weekends, they pack and distribute health kits and lunches from a church on Skid Row. At their PATH site, they cook warm food for their residents and create a space for both volunteers and residents to eat, share dialogue, and build community.
In addition to their signature services, the Hunger Project also holds art workshops to help with stress relief, mental health, and socialization. Hunger Project also has a new site called Shower of Hope where they provide free showers to folks in the Los Angeles community. Moreover, Hunger Project also volunteers with Bruin Dine, a program that serves leftover food from the dining halls on campus to UCLA students. Lastly, their advocacy committee aims to make change through government relations. They do local legislative outreach, attend city council meetings, and organize campaigns such as Homelessness Awareness Week.
“My favorite memory was at my first site where I served a meal to a resident and talked to him about his story and how he got to PATH. I got to learn about his challenges and
how he found help at PATH. He was very appreciative of PATH and the help it’s provided, but also talked about how hard it was to be there and how flawed the system is.
Connecting with him and learning from his story really opened my eyes. I didn’t know much before and was shocked about how relatable he was. While talking, he brought up
some challenges like access to transportation to look for a job. This made me realize the various struggles and challenges that disadvantaged people like him face
and what issues we need to tackle to help, ” says third-year UCLA student and president of Hunger Project Jessica Yen.
The Hunger Project’s goal in the next five years is to develop new programs and collaborate more with other organizations on campus. They also hope to look for more ways to make long-lasting structural changes at UCLA and in Los Angeles to address homelessness beyond basic aid. Again, the UCLA Volunteer Center Fellows are honored to award the Hunger Project at UCLA the Winter 2018 Mongelli Award for Excellence in Civic Engagement for their demonstrated impact on the homeless population at UCLA.
Follow the Hunger Project via their website or Facebook page for more information about their amazing programming and upcoming events.