This fall, Yale welcomed back all of its students after a year of screens and Zoom classes. With a return to in-person classes, the ability to eat in dining halls at full-capacity, more parties and opportunities to socialize, it feels as if college life has returned to normal. However, this is only possible because Yale exists in a COVID-19 bubble, isolated from the effects of the pandemic. With the institution’s resources, Yale students are afforded contact tracing, weekly testing and isolation housing, sheltered from the very real effects of an ongoing pandemic.
This semester, the Yale Hunger and Homelessness Action Project’s Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week focuses on the effects of COVID-19 on issues of food and housing injustice, ranging from redlining to the lifting of the rent moratorium.
For the past three semesters, YHHAP’s Fast Fundraiser has been held completely virtually, relying on online monetary donations from peer organizations, students, alumni and faculty. Tens of thousands of dollars have been raised for a number of organizations fighting food and housing injustice in New Haven through this effort. This semester, the Fast is returning to the traditional method of donating swipes, which has raised more than $10,000 dollars in the past.
This fundraiser cannot happen without you. Your donations will support four New Haven-based organizations. Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen, one of YHHAP’s closest community partners, has served New Haven for over 30 years. DESK works with those who are experiencing homelessness or living in poverty by providing food assistance and services that promote health, community and equity. The New Haven Housing Fund unites unhoused people in New Haven to build networks of mutual aid, supplies, support and solidarity. Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services, or IRIS, is a non-profit agency whose mission is to help refugees and other displaced people establish new lives, strengthen hope and contribute to the vitality of Connecticut’s communities through housing, employment, health, legal, education and case management services. Our fourth partner, the City of New Haven’s Office of Housing & Homelessness Services, is starting a Tiny House Project, a five-year plan to create affordable housing options for people experiencing homelessness in New Haven.
Our community partners have worked tirelessly to provide services to community members experiencing food and housing insecurity, and donations can support these essential efforts. You can further support the New Haven community by interacting with the local businesses that struggled during COVID-19 lockdowns and closures. Instead of eating at the dining hall on Friday, eating at local restaurants creates the opportunity to strengthen your ties with the community outside of the Yale bubble and especially with our sponsors, Claire’s Corner Copia, Haven Hot Chicken, Sherkaan, Pataka and House of Naan.
Community care is not just a once-a-semester donation of meal swipes during your time here at Yale. The Fast should be just one part of the effort to care for those around us. This effort could take the form of resharing mutual aid calls on social media or finding other non-monetary ways to support community organizations. Community care is a continuous process that takes time and energy, unlearning and learning and centering of community voices, and it is our responsibility as Yale students.
KAREN WANG is a sophomore in Branford College. Contact them at email@example.com. ISABELLA MARIN QUINTERO is a sophomore in Branford College. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. They are the co-directors of the YHHAP Fast.