The Stuff-a-Truck project group has ended their donations period and collected the money to be sent to the Community Food Bank of New Jersey in Atlantic City to help Hurricane Sandy aftermath.
The Stuff-a-Truck project began when Spanish teacher Suzanne Planas suggested to a group of students that they should organize something in response to Hurricane Sandy.
“There are many responses to these communities right after disasters when the damage is most visible, but we may forget the long-term effects left in these communities,” Ronald Lapitan, a member of the group, said.
A group of students got together after school one day and called the Community Food Bank of New Jersey in Atlantic City to ask what they could do.
After speaking with the staff of the Food Bank, the students learned that the drop in tourism significantly hurt the area.
Not only were homes and businesses destroyed, but surviving businesses were also not getting enough tourists. This hurt many people, especially those who made money off of commission or tips such as waitresses.
Demand at the food bank was high, even for those whose homes were still standing.
“Our project was to gather a monetary donation from the school and community to send to the Food Bank to buy some of these supplies,” Lapitan said. “Our efforts to do so included a coin drive at school, connecting with local businesses and leaving change collectors, and an art sale during a Mustang Block.”
“What I take away from this project is that we tend to treat the symptoms of problems rather than the underlying structures that create conditions.” Lapitan continued, “We think of solutions in short-term responses like sending money to a food bank, rather than thinking in processes of how communities can become more sustainable.”
According to the Community Food Bank, 1.2 million people in New Jersey are food insecure. A high population influences this, causing a competition for jobs, a lowering of wages, and a rise of housing prices.
In addition, 45% of these resulting 1.2 million people don't qualify for government aid.
“There is more to be examined in the way we respond to each other in times of disaster, and I think that we should start shifting to this new paradigm of thinking of action in processes aimed at fostering the long-term conditions for supporting people into well-being. This subject engages us in bigger questions than our short-term project could suggest answers to,” said Lapitan.