The following is a guest entry from our University of Montevallo School of Social Work Intern Trevor Jones:
I recently had an opportunity to join other college students and professionals from across the state at the Hungry for Justice Summit in Montgomery. The summit provided a great opportunity for those interested in improving their communities to exchange ideas and experiences. The breakout session I attended was interesting and informative, as were the mini-sessions that we had after the lunch break. It was during those sessions that I realized something that needs to change: a lack of interaction between groups.
I do not mean that organizations were keeping to themselves at the summit. Rather, the summit seemed like the first time many of the colleges and organizations had interacted. One example that stood out was a group from the University of Alabama that was having difficulty starting an on-campus food gleaning service, something Auburn University had had much success with. However, when the students from UA hit this obstacle, it seems that they had not been aware of similar models at other campuses throughout the state.
Many of us resolved that we would maintain contact after the event, so that we could collaborate on effective solutions. It is extremely important that we keep up with that. Charitable organizations, especially those operated and staffed by college students, tend to run on limited capacity and funding. By sharing the obstacles we face and the solutions we have found with one another regularly, we can seriously reduce the amount of time and energy dedicated to problem solving.
Organizations can also share methods for meeting goals. This applies especially to similar organizations on different campuses. If the University of Alabama has a successful student organization, and Auburn University wants a similar one, or vice versa, the two should collaborate early and often so that they can both meet their goals more effectively.
The summit was a wonderful experience and I enjoyed all of the new connections that I built there. The next step is for everyone who made a contact, exchanged an email, or got a name to keep those connections strong. We should not wait until next years summit to collaborate again when we have the means to be working together until then.
To stay in touch with folks until next year, see the agenda and attendee directory below.
Thanks to Troy University-Montgomery Campus for hosting the summit. Thanks also to our keynote and breakout speakers from organizations and universities including: Jones Valley Teaching Farm, Arise Citizens’ Policy Project, University of Montevallo, Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham, Low Income Housing Coalition of Alabama, River Region Food Policy Council, Southern Poverty Law Center, Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice, VOICES for Alabama’s Children, Auburn University’s Committee of 19, UAB’s Chapter of Universities Fighting World Hunger, Equal Justice Initiative, Alabama Appleseed, and Alabama Food Bank Association.