Anthropology Instructor Kathleen Saunders knows a class about the economic factors of hunger and poverty can be an emotionally overwhelming experience for empathetic college students.
So Saunders put her students to work to help solve the problem of hunger – at least for a few people, for a little while.
“Why educate them if it’s hopeless?” asks Saunders, a senior instructor who has taught at Western since 2000.
The students gleaned tons of leftover fruits and vegetables from fields that had already been harvested for market. They delivered the produce to food banks and converged on a church kitchen to cook apple crisp for hundreds. Then they sat down for dinner alongside hundreds of low-income, hungry people.
“To deeply understand how it can be that there’s bountiful food and there’s hunger at the same time, there’s nothing better than to go gleaning,” Saunders says. “One glorious morning, we pulled four tons of apples. It was impressive for them to understand an effort by those 25 people on that morning put four tons of produce into the hands of people who normally can’t afford it.”
Saunders’ service-learning practices caught the attention of the Center for a Public Anthropology, which honored her earlier this year with the Eleanor Roosevelt Global Citizenship Award.