Most college kids have run-of-the-mill worries: grades, internships, social lives. But today, a shocking number also worry about not having enough to eat.
According to a Temple University study, 36 percent of U.S. students attending four-year universities and colleges are food insecure. “And that number is as high as 67 percent at community colleges,” said Carly Zimmerman, CEO of Challah for Hunger.
But through Jewish values and old-fashioned bake sales, the Jewish Federation-supported Challah for Hunger is making a difference in the lives of college students around the world.
“Across the spectrum of Judaism, challah is a symbol of family and values,” Zimmerman said, helping to explain Challah for Hunger’s runaway success: Since its 2004 inception, the organization has sprouted chapters on more than 85 campuses, with 10,000 students volunteering every year.
Students are drawn in by the mission of tzedakah, but also by the warmth and comfort of baking bread together. In fact, that’s how the organization began — not as a charity, but as a casual baking group hosted by a homesick Scripps College student, Eli Winkelman.
Winkelman’s friends would gather for nights of baking challah, with the group growing bigger and bigger until they decided to sell the challah for a good cause — at the time, to raise awareness for genocide in Darfur. Eventually, as the grassroots group spread, the mission changed to address the urgent needs faced by students on their own campuses.
Through Challah for Hunger’s “Campus Hunger Project,” student volunteers at college chapters across the United States, Canada, Australia and England get together to bake challah. While the dough rises, they discuss local and global hunger issues and advocacy tactics. Then they sell the challah to fellow students, university staff and community members, with the proceeds donated in an even split between MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger and a local nonprofit fighting hunger in each chapter’s community.
In addition, in communities like Greater Philadelphia, Challah for Hunger has developed the Social Change Bakery Network, an off-campus version that brings the same model of baking and conversation into local nonprofits and Jewish institutions, helping teens, families and young adults with physical and developmental disabilities fight hunger.
Challah for Hunger is always looking for helping hands, through either the Campus Hunger Project or the Social Change Bakery Network. To find out more or to join the Philadelphia volunteer corps, visit challahforhunger.org.
Jewish Philly Podcast Episode 14: Holocaust Survivor Ann Jaffe
The most recent episode of the Jewish Philly podcast featured a special interview this episode with local Holocaust survivor Ann Jaffe.
Joined by our guest co-host Marc Prine, we sat down with Jaffe to hear her story of when the Nazis invaded her small hometown in Poland, her family’s remarkable escape and survival in a nearby forest, and why it’s so important for her to share her story with local students.
Also on this episode, we broke down the history of Jewish and interfaith activism, followed by a conversation on Israel’s recent elections with Jewish Exponent reporter Jesse Bernstein. Finally, we shared the remarkable story of the Theresienstadt Tree, otherwise known as the tree that survived the Holocaust.
The Jewish Philly podcast is available on iTunes, Spotify and Google Play and at Jewishphilly.org/podcast.