Editorial: Giving Back This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is next Thursday, and in this editorial, The Whit Staff talks about food insecurity in New Jersey and on campus. - Photo via Pixabay.com

The season of thanks is finally here.

What’s different about this Thanksgiving? Well, for many people, they’ll be able to celebrate with more of their loved ones this year than in 2020. Last Thanksgiving, many families set fewer plates and silverware sets on the table but, now, some people are going to be passing the stuffing to relatives they haven’t seen since the pandemic began. 

While it is important to be cautious and aware that COVID-19 is still spreading throughout the country, we know that almost everyone is looking forward to gathering around the table and gobbling down their yummy holiday favorites.

Here on The Whit Staff, some of us are looking forward to watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade and cooking with family, while others are excited to get away for a while and go home. Our Co-Editor-in-Chief, Joel Vazquez-Juarbe, can’t wait to have his extended family over and celebrate that last Thursday properly.

We’re also aware that Thanksgiving may be hard for those who won’t be able to celebrate with loved ones this year. The Whit Staff hopes that they are still able to have a peaceful and loving Thanksgiving.

This holiday is about looking around and appreciating what you have. We’re sure you’ve all done the tradition of when you go around the table and say what you’re thankful for. But it’s important to remember that celebrating with a feast is not obtainable when there’s not enough food to go around.

In 2019, about 762,530 people, including more than 192,000 children, were food insecure in New Jersey, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That means that in the garden state one in 12 people, and one in 10 kids, live in households where food is limited or not consistently available. 

As students, we are often caught up in jam-packed class schedules and endless deadlines. Sometimes there’s simply not enough time to sit down for a meal. For some students, it’s not even a matter of time– it’s a matter of money.

Back in November 2017, the Student Hunger on Campus (SHOC) research team distributed an online survey to undergraduate students to figure out how many students are “food insecure.”

What the research found was alarming.

The survey results showed that 48% of undergraduates experienced food insecurity. Almost one in ten students didn’t eat anything for an entire day multiple times a month because they didn’t have enough money. The study also found that Black and Hispanic students were 70% more food insecure than their white peers. 

This report pushed the problem to the forefront of Rowan’s agenda. That same year, Rowan launched The SHOP, which was the first on-campus food pantry meant to better combat food insecurity and keep students fed. Now, The SHOP sees about 100 students a day and is open on Mondays and Fridays from noon to 4 p.m. The pantry is located in room 141 of Building 5 in the Rowan Boulevard Apartments.

As mentioned by our staff writer Abdul Barrie, Rowan University’s Office of Volunteerism & Community Engagement is holding an “Adopt A Family” Thanksgiving food drive. 

If you’re able to, we highly recommend considering donating. They feed over 150 families and it is a great way to give back to the community this holiday season. Donation drop-off will be in the Student Center in Room 144. Donations start on Nov. 16 from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. and continue on Nov. 17 – Nov. 19, from to 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

If coming to campus on those days doesn’t work for you, the Food Bank of South Jersey (FBSJ) is hosting a turkey and food drop off on Saturday, Nov. 20 at 1501 John Tipton Blvd. in Pennsauken Township from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. 

They plan on donating 18,000 turkeys this Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is all about giving. Having the ability to help someone in need is powerful, and, after the year we’ve experienced, a simple act of kindness can go a long way.

For questions/comments about this story email thewhitarts23@gmail.com or tweet @TheWhitOnline.