YHHAP, a fundraiser and teaching tool

On Friday, YHHAP held its second fast of the year to raise money to fight hunger in New Haven. This semester’s events also focused on educating Yale students about homelessness.

Approximately 1,600 Yale students donated their Friday meal swipes for the fast, giving YHHAP over $11,000 to donate to Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Programs (HPRP).  This year the event also included a series of speakers and discussions aimed towards making the event more than a fundraiser.

“The fast has become a tradition and people get used to seeing us tabling outside of dining halls, but I think part of the educational component of what the fast does and who it helps has been lost,” said Anne O’Brien ’16, YHHAP board member and co-coordinator of the fast.

On Friday, YHHAP instigated conversations about homelessness in the residential colleges. YHHAP assigned board members to work with the masters of each college to organize master’s teas and study breaks featuring people involved with homelessness prevention projects, O’Brien added.

David O’Sullivan, for example, was one of the three event speakers. He spoke about his experience as the kitchen coordinator for the New Haven Community Soup Kitchen at a Morse study break.

The move to provide more information came largely from within the organization, although several students had also expressed interest in a more educational component to the fast, said Shea Jennings ’16, co-director of YHHAP.

This semester’s participation numbers and earnings have stayed consistent with those of previous fasts, O’Brien said, adding that each fast is an important opportunity to reach out to freshmen.

Usually, approximately 1,300 to 2,000 students choose to fast, which gives YHHAP about $13,000 to $15,000, said Zana Davey ’15, former YHHAP board member and current board advisor.

In addition to homelessness education, YHHAP members have also taken this semester’s fast as an opportunity to raise awareness of their other programs, said Ruth Hanna ’17, YHHAP’s Food Rescue coordinator.

“Since it’s a big time where we’re talking to a lot of people, we figured this was also a great time to educate them more about what homelessness looks like in New Haven,” Hanna said.

Local New Haven restaurants also contributed to the fundraiser by donating a portion of Friday’s profits to YHHAP. Consistent with previous semesters, Tomatillo Taco Joint, Caseus Fromagerie & Bistro, Chipotle Mexican Grill and Yorkside Pizzeria all sponsored the fundraiser, Davey said.

YHHAP also garnered newfound support from the Yale Event Management Association (YEMA), which arranged for Kumo Hibachi Steakhouse and Sushi Mizu to offer discounts to fasting students, Jennings said.

Each year YHHAP donates money raised from the fast to three HPRP organizations — Liberty Community Services, New Haven Home Recovery and Columbus Housing — that receive funds partially from the city and partially from contracts with nonprofits, Jennings said.

YHHAP donates $7,000 annually to each organization, she said, adding that YHHAP does not plan to expand the number of organizations the fast money is donated to.

“We considered giving to more, but it’s difficult because we don’t want to spread ourselves thin,” Jennings said. “We want to have money saved for a rainy day.”

Last semester, the YHHAP Fast raised over $15,000 for HPRP.

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