Students head to local sites to serve

Regardless of where Guilfordians grew up, being a member of the Guilford Community means being part of the Greensboro community.

It also means being part of the community that ranks ninth in the nation for food insecurity, according to WFMY News 2.

That is why, on Aug. 27, around 300 students went to 40 different Bonner sites to learn about food insecurity in the community for Guilford’s Day of Service.

“With tremendous resources, how can we work together to create a system where there is enough food for everyone?” said President Jane Fernandes in her speech at the beginning of the day.

“Look around at the people and the place and what are the systems in place, and how can we as Guilfordians figure out a way to transform those systems. If we can do that here in Greensboro, that could be a marvel for other cities. If we could do that here at Guilford, that could be a marvel for other colleges.”

With those words in mind, all of the student groups gathered in the Alumni Gym. Accompanied by five other students, I went to the Friends Homes at Guilford, a retirement community across the street, to talk to the residents about food and food insecurity.

“We have many residents who have been faculty and staff at a variety of colleges and universities,” said Friends Homes resident and Day of Service coordinator Charlotte Hamlin. “We’ve lived through some amazing times.”

We listened to several residents tell their stories about food, including some former Guilfordians.

“In the morning, if you did not have an eight o’clock class, you could sleep in another half hour, every minute precious, and go down to the kitchen where we cooked all of our meals and find leftover cocoa, room temperature, leftover cold biscuits,” said a Guilford alumnus. “And you could have a little comfort food before you rushed to your first class.”

“We had much too much rationing,” said a Friends Homes resident who lived in England during World War II before he ended up in Greensboro. “Bread was not rationed, except for very briefly after the war. Except that bread was not allowed to be white bread. It had to contain a certain amount of whole wheat for health (reasons).

“As soon as the war was over and people could choose what bread to eat, they switched right back to white bread.”

Students got to share their stories as well.

“I’ve been cooking since I was (small),” said Guilford College senior Brandee Craig. “I remember watching the Food Network with my grandma and spending so many memories in the kitchen.

“I cook at home. It’s just what I do. I have so much enjoyment for cooking.”

Activity Director at Friends Homes Mil Hendrix and Hamlin had the opportunity to discuss volunteer opportunities with the group.

“We have lots of fun activities, from exercise to music to seated dance to cooking to your normal activities like bingo and crossword puzzles,” said Hendrix. “We have lots of parties. We like to eat. We have great food and Easter egg hunts. We would love to have some more volunteers to help with those activities.”

Other volunteers went to local schools.

“We went to a local high school,” said first-year Tibaria Alnouri. “We worked on their community garden, (and we) organized food so it wasn’t past the expiration date and then packaged it.”

Many went out to the local tutoring sites like Glen Haven, a tutoring site for predominantly Bhutanese and Nepali refugees.

“It was interesting seeing different cultures and living environments,” said CCE student Maharshi Patel. “They found joy in the simplest things, like getting hosed down with the water hose.”

As for the Day of Service as a whole, students like sophomore Ari Smith hope Guilford will continue their commitment to service.

“It’s good that Guilford tries to push students to be involved in their community instead of just being like a college bubble where the students don’t engage in the community,” said Smith. “It might be good if it wasn’t just one day, maybe (if) it was more integrated into how the school stuff works and how things happen.”

For many students, the connections they made to the outside community will not be easily broken.

“Sometimes we’re just so caught up in our own lives and the heat of life that we forget to cool down,” said Patel. “It was really nice seeing how happy they were that we came out.

“I wasn’t expecting this … but I did definitely enjoy my time here.”