Local group aims to fight starvation

By Chelsey Boutan

Outreach and Engagement Associate Andrew Pemberton’s parents taught him the importance of helping people in the community.

Today, that sense of volunteerism hasn’t left. Pemberton helped organize NIU’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge (ICSCC) – a new initiative focused on fighting hunger in DeKalb County.

This initiative answers President Obama’s call for cooperation and community service to become a reality on campuses across the country.

Pemberton said the poor working class remains largely unseen in DeKalb County. By focusing on the single issue of hunger, Pemberton said the initiative will make a stronger impact.

“[ICSCC] is about seeing how we’re similar instead of how we’re different,” he said. “If we focus on those similarities, we can make greater changes in our society.”

The ICSSC partners with Feed ‘Em Soup, 122 S. First St. in DeKalb, and the Voluntary Action Center, 1606 Bethany Road in Sycamore. Students, student organizations, faculty and staff can participate in the initiative by volunteering to serve meals and organizing fundraisers or food drives, Pemberton said.

Pemberton said he expects volunteering to start within the next few months.

Feed ‘Em Soup Director Randi Kennedy said the organization provides meals and offers support and encouragement for the community. Feed ‘Em Soup does not receive state funding and depends entirely on volunteers and fundraisers for support, she said.

“The more volunteers and fundraising, the more we will be able to provide for our community,” she said.

Ellen Rogers, associate director of the Voluntary Action Center, said the center meets the community’s basic needs through transportation and nutritional services. Having additional volunteers from NIU would help the center because it depends mainly on the community for support, she said.

“We are really grateful that NIU staff, faculty and, most importantly, the students do embrace giving and trying to be a part of the community,” she said.

Pemberton said he hopes the campus community will come together to help DeKalb County residents by taking part in this initiative.

“Regardless of our religion or belief system we can work together to contribute to a greater good,” he said.