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Hunger Action Group donates books to India

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By Jim Brody

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MIT students concerned about local and world hunger are forming groups to combat those problems. Senior House, McCormick Hall, and Burton House along with the MIT Hunger Action Group are planning activities to feed the hungry and homeless in the Boston metropolitan area.

Students organize and run residence hall hunger committees, which raise money at living groups through student donations. Volunteers buy meat and vegetables with the money, cook a meal and deliver it to a church or shelter for serving.

Senior House's Hungercomm has had a "feeble response so far," according to Jacquiline Gottlieb '86. This year they have raised only $20, a meager response compared to last year's donations, she said. A Somerville church distributes the meals they cook.

Peter Tatian '86 said the Burton committee raised $400 over six weeks last term. Thirty volunteers helped supply meals to a Boston shelter called Bridge Over Troubled Waters. The committee is still organizing for this term, he added.

McCormick Hall's Hungercomm is also in the organizing stage, according to Connie Moy '87. McCormick plans to provide meals to a shelter for reformed alcoholics on Albany Street in Cambridge, she said.

Hunger Action Group holds forum

Lenore Olmstead from the Oxford Community Famine Relief (OxFam) and Nan Johnson from the Boston Food Bank addressed a Sept. 26 meeting organized by the Hunger Action Group.

Olmstead criticized the lingering effects of colonization, particularly in Africa. The established system "where people raise crops for exportation, instead of feeding themselves" perpetuates world hunger, she said.

OxFam was organized 15 years ago at Oxford University and has since expanded with field offices in India and Zimbabwe to serve 30 countries. Each year OxFam sponsors a project called Fast for World Harvest, among other programs. "On the Thursday before Thanksgiving people give up a meal and donate the money saved," Olmstead explained.

The Boston Food Bank receives food from manufacturers and wholesalers, then stores it and redistributes it to soup kitchens, shelters, and rehabilitation centers, Johnson said.

"The Food Bank is only a band-aid solution," she cautioned. "It doesn't increase self-sufficiency."

Mary Kelley of the Cambridge Shelter and Barbara Duffy of the Boston Family Shelter spoke at the meeting about the problems of homelessness. There are 800 homeless families in Massachusetts, about 98 percent of which are on welfare, Duffy said.

"The main reason they are homeless is the lack of affordable housing. A family of four on welfare gets only $468 per month plus food stamps, which isn't enough," she continued.

Many of the homeless are mentally ill, according to Kelley, and some had been institutionalized but can't adjust to a normal lifestyle.