Over a quarter of Yale College students donated their meal swipes on Friday to benefit New Haven’s homeless population, taking part in the Yale Hunger and Homelessness Action Project’s semiannual fast.
YHHAP partnered with Yale Dining and local restaurant Claire’s Corner Copia to organize the fast. In exchange for advertisements encouraging students to eat at the restaurant instead of a dining hall, Claire’s contributed a donation to YHHAP’s cause.
On Friday, 1,384 students donated all of their meal swipes for the day — an increase of 107 students compared to last fall’s fast. Since the dining halls still have to stay open on the day of the fast, Yale Dining gives YHHAP roughly $10 per student — not the full cost of Yale Dining meals, according to YHHAP Fast Coordinator Aki Dhadda ’21. She added that Yale Dining will issue a check to YHHAP in the upcoming weeks and that the group anticipates raising over $10,000, consistent with previous years’ fasts.
“The Yale Hunger and Homelessness Action Project Fast is one of the easiest ways for Yale students to support our local New Haven community. It takes 30 seconds to donate a swipe, but the impact is long-lasting,” Dhadda said. “The fact that one quarter of Yale students participated this semester is incredibly heartening, but also shows that we have a long way to go.”
Every year, YHHAP donates to local homeless shelters in New Haven, but the organization has not yet selected the exact organizations they will donate to this semester. In recent years, proceeds from previous fasts have gone to rapid re-housing efforts run through the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness. Rapid re-housing programs help individuals quickly exit homelessness and return to permanent housing.
A statement on YHHAP’s website emphasizes that rapid re-housing deals with homelessness more effectively than soup kitchens and emergency shelters. In its statement, YHHAP cites a study from the CCEH — which found that 94 percent of homeless families and 90 percent of homeless single tenants did not return to homeless shelters after being housed through a re-housing project.
For this semester’s fast, YHHAP also collaborated with Urban Improvement Corps, a student organization that provides one-on-one mentoring and tutoring to students in New Haven schools. UIC held a fundraiser on Friday at the restaurant Junzi, and the organization will receive a portion of proceeds from the day’s sales.
UIC Director of Finance Aparna Nair-Kanneganti ’20 told the News that there was a “good turnout” at the fundraiser, but Junzi has not yet notified her of how much money was raised.
Nair-Kanneganti added that YHHAP and UIC collaborated by promoting each other’s events through their email panlists, noting that YHHAP’s support was “integral to the success of [UIC’s] fundraiser.”
UIC will allocate funds toward expenses such as the organization’s event budget as well as school supplies for students whom the group mentors.
Although the fast is the most well-known YHHAP initiative, the group also works on other projects, such as youth mentorship and book exchanges.
At 26.5 percent, New Haven ranks eighth among Connecticut cities in percentage of households receiving food stamps, according to Statistical Atlas. The national average is 13 percent.
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