Students raise more than $16,000 for Middletown's hungry

Wesleyan senior Ankit Kansal reads a letter to Connecticut senators/Tracy SimmonsMIDDLETOWN – Hundreds of Wesleyan University students applauded themselves Thursday evening when they learned that through their daylong fast and monetary donations they were able to raise more than $16,000 for Middletown’s hungry.

The third annual Interfaith Fast-A-Thon and Ramadan Banquet, created by senior Nadeem Modan, is an opportunity for students of all faiths to join together and fast for one day and donate the money they would have spent on food to the local food pantry and/or soup kitchen. This year more than 1,100 people participated in the event, including students, faculty and community members.

At the banquet, which concluded the fast-a-thon, Wesleyan President Michael Roth praised and thanked his students.

“There is probably not a more pressing matter in our country than food, than ensuring that everybody has enough healthy food to eat,” he said, noting that giving food to the hungry is an act of justice.

In Middletown, St. Vincent De Paul Place serves thousands of households a month through the soup kitchen and through the Amazing Grace Food Pantry. Ron Krom, executive director of St. Vincent De Paul, said that the soup kitchen served 85,000 meals in 2008 and the food pantry serves about 900 families each month. The money raised through the fast-a-thon goes to the organization.

“We can hardly keep up with the food, more and more people are coming,” he said.

Last year, the organization spent approximately $11,000 to purchase food – almost equal to what the fast-a-thon raised.

“That’s huge,” he said. “You’re giving us the opportunity to purchase the food that we need.”

Flavia DeSouza, field organizer for Bread For the World, a Christian organization that fights worldwide hunger through policy change, commended the students for helping their Middletown neighbors, but reminded them that hunger is a worldwide problem.

“This year more than 1 billion people will be hungry,” she said, adding that starvation is criminal negligence that that can be stopped.

“Truly the only ones who can do something about it are people like us,” she said.

DeSouza provided a packet to the students and asked them to write letters to Sen. Christopher J. Dodd and Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman to urge them to cosponsor the Foreign Assistance Revitalization and Accountability Act of 2009, which will improve U.S. foreign assistance programs.

At the banquet, 130 students wrote letters supporting the Act.

Although this year’s fast-a-thon is over, students can still volunteer with St. Vincent De Paul by calling (860) 344-0097.

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