Collecting canned food through a common love

Literature brings people together at Will Read for Food

by Marlena Chertock, December 1, 2010

Students could bring donated food during this year’s Will Read for Food Event and read from their favorite author or writer. This year, the group raised 180 cans for the homeless. Photo by Molly Carey.

What’s a place to enjoy a love of food and books? The fourth annual Will Read for Food event at 7:30 p.m. combined the two on Nov. 17 in the Isabella Cannon Room in the Centre for the Arts.
English professor Tita Ramirez said the Arts and Letters Learning Community started the event in 2006 to promote literature.

“There’s a lot of readings on campus where people read their own work,” Ramirez said. “There are faculty readings, student readings and visiting writers who read their work.”

She said she realized there wasn’t a reading where students and faculty could read other writers. A place where people who might not be writers can share writing they enjoy with others, she said.

“Where people just share their love of literature,” she said.

Will Read for Food always occurs during National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. Students and faculty read excerpts from writing they enjoy or that relates to the themes of hunger, being underappreciated, giving, family and homelessness. The admission fee is a can or more of food, which are then donated.

“We dedicate these excerpts, and the food cans we’ll donate abade the craving for a moment,” said English professor Prudence Layne. “But they’ll do little to fend off insult and hunger and homelessness.”

It’s all about raising awareness, she said.

“It’s a great opportunity to do the most important work,” Ramirez said.

The writers read varied greatly, from nonfiction to poetry and fiction to excerpts of books.

Layne said this event and the readings offer an opportunity to learn more about ourselves, isolation and the view of imprisonment.

“Might I suggest that we expand homelessness to include imprisoned people,” Layne said.

She explained that currently the government does not consider those held in prison to be homeless.

English professor Kathy Lyday-Lee discussed the new government word that describes hunger: food insecurity.

“The number of people suffering from severe food insecurity doubled from 2007 to 2009,” she said.

Traditionally, students and staff of all different majors and departments read and attend, Ramirez said. The Arts and Letters Learning Community is composed of a mixture of majors, which contributes to the diversity.

This year, Arts and Letters partnered with the Service Learning Community, who collected the cans of food at the end of the event and distributed them to the Alamance County Food Bank. There were at least 180 cans collected and donated from the event, according to sophomore Will Brummett, a member of the Service Learning Community.

Selections from Will Read for Food:

Sophomore Elliot Luke
“Boa Constrictor,” “One Inch Tall,” “The Garden,” “Treehouse” and “Spaghetti” by Shel Silverstein

Professor Prudnce Layne
An excerpt from Nelson Mandela’s recent book, “Conversations About Myself” and the prologue of Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”

Sophomore Chris Sonzogni

“Onions” by William Matthews and “Oranges” by Gary Soto

Senior Tosh Scheps
“Keep One’s Treasure Protected” by Stephen Dobyns

Professor Kathy Lyday-Lee
“The God of Hunger” by Sonia Huber

Junior James Shaver
“Luciano,” by A.A. Gill

Senior Natalie Lampert
Excerpts from a blog by Tuscan chef Faye Hess

Professor Paula Patch
“Every Little Hurricane” from Sherman Alexie’s “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven”

Senior Jon Bolding
“Test” by G.A. Ingersoll