Jennifer Crusco
Communications Assistant

Teen Hunger Summit Reveals: Justice Is the Key

Demarest, NJ: Justice is the key to ending hunger. This is the simple, unvarnished message Academy of the Holy Angels juniors Sofia Nedelkoff of Ramsey and Genevieve McClean of Nutley brought home from the Seventh Annual Teen Hunger Summit. They also returned to Holy Angels with ideas for immediate actions that can be taken close to home.

The convocation for middle school and high school students, teachers, campus ministers, and administrators was held at Seton Hall Prep, which co-sponsored the event in conjunction with the Community FoodBank of NJ.

McClean reported that one speaker drew a distinction between charity and justice, pointing out that charity is a response to an injustice or issue, while justice involves actions taken to find solutions to a societal injustice.

“The point that the speaker made about it was that as great as charity is to help put Band-Aids on the problem of hunger, acts of justice are the only way to end hunger,” McClean summarized.

McClean, who has previously volunteered for Community FoodBank of NJ, is aware that hunger is prevalent in many communities, and it is not always apparent who may be suffering.

Summit representatives were divided into groups that took in-depth looks at various facets of hunger. After these individual workshops, everyone present attended a group assembly, where they shared their findings and ideas.

“My group discussed social media and its influence on the way the world views hunger,” McClean explained. “We talked about how accessible social media has become, and how making a change can be done just as easily as starting a social media campaign to bring awareness to the subject. After we talked individually in our groups, we all came together to share points and solutions we came up with. Every group had very creative and diverse solutions, from creating community gardens to getting involved in state and federal legislation.

“This experience was so great for me, because I was in an environment of other passionate kids my age who wanted to learn more about how to bring hunger to an end,” McClean concluded.

Nedelkoff, who also spoke enthusiastically about her experience at the summit, saw the event as an opportunity to learn about hunger and poverty and collaborate with others to take action.

“I was placed in the group which discussed the overall issue of poverty and the discrepancies of wealth. The presenter for my group mentioned many times the idea that you never know where life would take you and the outcome it would bring,” Nedelkoff said. “Many people who now live in poverty faced many unexpected issues that forced them into the unfortunate situation.”

This student’s group also took a look at the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and noted how difficult it could be to live on SNAP plus a few dollars to spend on necessary food items.

Nedelkoff and McClean are members of the executive board of AHA’s Outreach organization, which is moderated by AHA Campus Minister Maryanne Miloscia and AHA Director of Campus Ministry Kathy Sylvester. Outreach helps to coordinate all the drives and community service projects at the Academy.

“I believe the Teen Hunger Summit benefits the students by giving them a closer look at hunger, especially in our area,” said Miloscia, who attended the summit along with Nedelkoff and McClean. “Many students in this area don't feel that there are people in Bergen County who are food insecure or require some assistance since we are an affluent community. Many of the other educators from Bergen County also spoke about this in the adult session (of the summit). The summit helps to benefit the AHA community and greater community since the students are presented with ideas to bring back to their schools and communities. The reason we bring Outreach students with us to the summit is so they can look into the feasibility of bringing these ideas back to AHA and having Outreach work on ways to implement some of these ideas into our drives and outreach to the community.”

Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in Bergen County. While AHA is steeped in Catholic tradition, this prestigious high school serves young women from a broad spectrum of cultural and religious backgrounds. Over time, thousands of women have passed through AHA’s portals. Many go on to study at some of the nation’s best universities, earning high-ranking positions in medicine, government, law, education, public service, business, arts, and athletics. The Academy’s current leaders continue to further the SSND mission to provide each student with the tools she needs to reach the fullness of her potential—spiritually, intellectually, socially, and physically, by offering a first-rate education in a nurturing environment where equal importance is placed on academic excellence, character development, moral integrity, and service to others.

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