Making Our DBA Count
By Sarah Marie Hopf, Guest Columnist
Published on Wednesday, November 17, 2010
On June 3, I used my leftover DBA to donate over 150 pounds of fresh fruit, yogurt, vegetables, milk and orange juice from Dartmouth’s dining halls to Willing Hands, a local organization fighting hunger in the Upper Valley.
While some of us at Dartmouth find ourselves with unspent DBA at the end of the term, members of our local community including children, veterans and working families, find themselves unsure of from where their next meals will come.
Like other students, I had to ask myself: “What do I do with my leftover DBA?” Students have found pragmatic solutions. Some earn brownie points by buying food for friends who have run out of DBA or inviting their friends for a meal, which is a legitimate option. Others buy transportable foods to take home such as Odwalla juices, vitamin water and bubble gum for everyone in their extended family. Still others increase their food consumption or purchase more expensive foods. Yet others simply leave their DBA unused.
Inspired by professor Caroline Faria’s geography class, “Food and Power,” I decided to put my leftover DBA to use differently. Food insecurity — lack of access to enough food or adequately nutritious food — affects 8.9 percent and 13.6 percent of the New Hampshire and Vermont populations, respectively. This means that about 118,900 people in New Hampshire and 84,600 people in Vermont are only a missed paycheck or unexpected bill away from going hungry.
In addition, many people live in food deserts with limited access to fresh produce and have to rely on highly processed foods. This situation has been a major contributor to the rise in type II diabetes and our obesity epidemic. As a result, this generation may be the first one in the history of the United States to die at a younger age than their parents.
By donating fresh produce with my leftover DBA I hoped to address, in some small way, the disparities around food that exist in our community.
Willing Hands seemed to be the perfect organization for my endeavor. Throughout the Upper Valley, from Springfield, Vt., to Orford, N.H., they deliver fresh fruits and vegetables to over 50 organizations like The Upper Valley Haven and to community meals and rehabilitation programs. They also serve families and seniors in low-income housing projects free of charge on a weekly or biweekly basis. In addition, they provide nutritional advice in their interactions with recipients.
I would like to spark a conversation about how Dartmouth students could turn DBA into food for people in need in the Upper Valley throughout the year. I am not alone. In the past months, I have talked with many students from across campus who are dissatisfied with the current system and who are keen on finding a better way to use up leftover DBA or to use their DBA to make a positive impact on our community. I have also raised the issue in conversations with faculty and staff. In addition, opportunities for students to use DBA in productive ways would probably reduce the amount of wasteful and frantic spending at the end of the term as students could put their leftover DBA to good use.
Dartmouth students and Dartmouth College as a whole could thus have a sustained impact on and further build a positive relationship with the local community, fighting hunger and obesity and contributing to community health by providing nutritious foods to people in need.
I am currently working with the administration to find a way for students to use DBA to have a positive impact on our community. Join the conversation. Hunger does not affect only developing countries; it is a problem right here in the Upper Valley. Together let’s make our DBA count for ourselves and our community.