2017 Grand Prize Winner Mary Pat Hector:
Committed to fighting campus hunger.

Meet Mary Pat Hector—a student at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, Fall 2017 Denny’s Hungry for Education scholarship winner and a Hungry for Education ambassador.

Mary Pat is a lifelong activist, fighting for the underprivileged and disadvantaged. Watch her talk about her idea to end hunger on college campuses, with the help of Denny’s.

Mary Pat’s Essay

"My community hunger program at Spelman College was created to bring awareness to food insecurity on campus while allowing students to support their sisters in need. I realized the troubling effects of food insecurity within the AUG (Atlanta University Center) when a friend told me she had begun selling herself to get by. She did not purchase clothes or new shoes, instead she used her money to buy books and pay bills. In fact, the last thing she thought about purchasing was food! As any good scholar would I began doing my research to back up my hypothesis regarding food insecurity on campus. I was told of the 2,138 students we had at Spelman only 1,400 didn’t face food insecurity while on campus.

At PWls and much larger HBCUs students are able to donate their unused or unwanted meal swipes from their meal plans to those that cannot afford one. Sadly, in the AUG if students shared their swipes they could face consequences from the administration. I presented a meal swipes program to both Spelman and Morehouse College, both refused to address food insecurity on their campuses or implement the program. I then organized a six-day hunger strike that made national attention. Leaders like Shaun King, Russell Simmons and Al Sharpton began pushing the AUC to implement our program.

The hunger strike concluded with each school committing 7,000 meals a semester to students who could not afford a meal plan and who face food insecurity while on campus. Students form Tennessee State University, Hampton University and other HBCUs have been reaching out to see how I can assist with bringing a shared swipes program to their HBCU. When I chose Spelman, I made a choice to change the world. In making that choice I knew the change started at Spelman.”

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