“First up is Kirby vs. Ryu,” AaronRey Ebreo announced to a group of about 10 students in the Reel. “Choose your controllers.”
Monday’s Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Mario Kart tournament marked the first event of Temple Student Government’s second Campus Hunger Awareness Week, organized by Ebreo, TSG’s director of basic needs.
This year, the week features a variety of interactive and competitive events to raise awareness for food insecurity on campus and gather donations for local hunger relief organizations. On Monday, TSG collected about 90 non-perishable items, Ebreo said.
Last year’s week featured two educational events, a potluck and a week-long food drive. This year, TSG hosted a video game tournament. It will also host a Challah bake and speaker panel, among other events, Ebreo said.
“I tried to make it as universal as possible, just to appeal to students of different interests, different groups of students, basically,” said Ebreo, a senior biology major. “And I feel like just having everyone involved can really help our cause and just raise more donations.”
Approximately 35 percent of undergraduates at Temple said they experienced “low” or “very low” food security, according to a 2017 survey by the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice, a research center focused on food insecurity among college students.
The main purposes of the week are to raise awareness about food insecurity on Temple’s campus and to collect food donations for the Cherry Pantry, Ebreo said. Swipes for Philadelphia, a student organization that uses unused meal swipes to donate food founded by Ebreo, will also distribute items to people experiencing homelessness in Center City on Saturday.
Though some at Temple are unaware of how food insecurity affects students, Ebreo said, many others are passionate about solving the problem.
“Over the years, with Swipes For Philadelphia, hundreds of students have reached out to us and said, ‘Hey, what can we do to at least donate something, or just give back to this community because we have all these resources that we’re not using,’” Ebreo said.
Eddy Conroy, assistant director of community engagement and research application for the Hope Center, said students advocating for awareness of food insecurity help address the issue on college campuses.
“We can only fix the system if we’re prepared to talk about the fact that it’s broken and not really working very well,” Conroy said.
Connor Pagkalinawan, a senior kinesiology major who attended Monday’s event, said conversations about food insecurity on college campuses are long overdue.
“It’s something that’s very prominent in Philadelphia, and we don’t really talk about it,” he said.
Hosting events like the tournament was a good way to reach more people, he added.
“It broadens the spectrum of the people it can reach,” Pagkalinawan said.