Panelists discuss issues surrounding hunger and homelessness

Conversation provides students with important resources


Shanice Davis, Features Editor


As a part of the CSUSM Conversations That Matter Series, panelists brought attention to issues that affect the lives of many and called audience members to action.

On Oct. 29, panelists Donald Stump, Megan Dunn, Lisa Posard, Charity Brant, Vanessa Arteaga, Diana Rabban and Cheryl McMahen discussed the problems surrounding hunger and homelessness throughout San Diego.

Donald Stump, Executive Director of North County Lifeline, approached the idea of homelessness by juxtaposing it to Tom Hank’s character’s determination in the film “Apollo 13”.

“What I love about this movie is that they have a problem, they engineer it… and they fix the problem,” said Stump.

Throughout his long career of working with youth, family services and nonprofit organizations, Stump says that figuring out ways to conquer homelessness and hunger has been an ongoing struggle, and the reasons why it has been difficult are a result of two things.

“The first is [that] there are people involved in this. This isn’t a man space mission; this is not science, these are people. When you deal with people, you can do everything right to help them find a home and at the end of the 30 hours of intervention they can refuse your help,” said Stump. “The other problem is that it’s a political issue, [and] the way in which the community solves these problems is sometimes tied to funding.”

Lisa Posard, award-winning documentary producer and volunteer at Donate Don’t Dump, a food rescue organization, says that part of the problem surrounding hunger is the community’s wastefulness.

“The logo is a take off on the recycling symbol and it helps to represent and raise awareness about the incredible issue we have with food waste,” said Posard. “Food rescue is important because of the environment. When food breaks down in the landfills, it creates methane gas.”

Posard says that methane is detrimental because it is 20 times more potent than carbon.

”Right now in the United States, 1 in 6 people are hungry, but yet we are throwing away 96 billion pounds of edible food every single year. That’s enough to fill 91 empire state buildings,” said Posard.

Cheryl McMahen, Outreach Manager at North County Health Services knows the first-hand realities of being homeless and hungry; she experienced these things while pregnant, during her time as a student at CSUSM.

“I was homeless…those deep, dark places [and] I feel it. I completely understand what that’s like and feeling like you have nothing and being very vulnerable,” said McMahen. “No matter what your deep dark secret is or whatever your rock bottom is, in some way, shape or form, all of you have experienced what it’s like to struggle. Whether that’s homelessness or just struggling.”

In this discussion, the panelists emphasized issues of homelessness and hunger, providing students with resources that could potentially ease their struggle.

“For anyone that’s ever going through this, I highly recommend that you don’t keep it bottled up, because there are always people who are willing to help.”