For the fourth year in a row, Indiana University of Pennsylvania faculty and students, working with a number of community agencies, will present Hunger Awareness Week events and the Seedling Project, April 24 to 28, 2017.

Hunger Awareness Week events are co-sponsored by sociology professor Melissa Swauger's Sociology of Family students; the IUP Food and Nutrition and Anthropology departments; the Indiana Community Garden; Indiana County Community Action Program, Inc.; Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank; Zion Lutheran Church; and Chevy Chase Community Center.

Hunger Awareness Week and the Seedling Project offer students opportunities to learn about real-life community issues, and to connect what they learn in the classroom to real people and correct their misconceptions, Swauger said. “Students feel invested in making these projects successful because they are informed and knowledgeable, theoretically and practically, about the needs of the community.

“These events will touch hundreds of students and local community members,” she said.

The Seedling Project will provide approximately 150 families in Indiana County access to fresh fruit, vegetable, and herb seeds and seedlings. Students work with community partners and food pantries to assess patron interest and solicit donations from greenhouses, local and national seed companies, local Indiana farms, local landscaping companies, and national chain lawn and garden centers. Students coordinate delivery and distribution based on the viability of seedlings and weather conditions.

Distributions will occur May 8 at Zion Lutheran Church and May 9 at Chevy Chase Community Center for pre-registered patrons from Zion, Chevy Chase, Church of the Brethren, Unity Family Services, and Trinity Methodist.

Monetary donations to the project are welcome. Checks should be made payable to the Foundation for IUP with “The Seedling Project” in the memo line. Checks should be sent to the Foundation for IUP, Sutton Hall Room G1, 1011 South Drive, Indiana, PA 15705.

In addition, women's gardening hats have been donated by Lowe's of Indiana. They are being sold to raise funds for the project from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday in 102 McElhaney (while they last).

Other events for the week include:

  • “Stuff the Van” food drive, April 25 to April 27. This project will benefit the Zion Lutheran food pantry. There will be a van parked in the IUP Hadley Union Building cul-de-sac for members of the IUP and Indiana community to drop off nonperishable food items and toiletries. Items will be accepted from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. each day. Persons dropping off items will receive a token bag which will include a seed packet, an inspirational growing message, and a hunger awareness fact.
  • Film screening and panel discussion: The film A Place at the Table will be shown April 26 at 5:00 p.m., McElhaney Hall room 101, followed by a panel discussion. This event is designed to raise awareness of national and local hunger and food insecurity issues. National experts estimate that 50 million Americans—one in four children—do not know where they will get their next meal. The film tells the stories of three such Americans, who maintain their dignity even as they struggle just to eat. Panelists will discuss hunger and food insecurity nationally and locally, and local programs to combat hunger.
  • Poverty simulation, April 28, 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., Hadley Union Building Ohio Room. The poverty simulation experience is designed to help participants begin to understand what it might be like to live in a typical low-income family trying to survive month to month. Persons wishing to participate should e-mail Melissa Swauger at to reserve a place.
  • Library and McElhaney Hall window displays: Throughout April, windows in these buildings will have displays created by IUP students about hunger and food insecurity locally and nationally.