Members of Phi Kappa Psi gathered together for their annual fall event, Phi Phast, from Oct. 9 to Oct. 11. They camped outside the Stephen F. Austin State University student center, collected canned goods and fasted for 48 hours to raise awareness for world hunger and poverty. All of the donations they received were donated to Nacogdoches HOPE, a local food pantry.
Phi Kappa Psi raised $375, which broke their record of monetary donations of $280, and collected 95 food items. When they were done fasting, the fraternity said they really understood the message they were trying to convey.
“For us going 48 hours without food, it really brings across the message that it can happen to just about anyone, and that it is a very serious issue,” Senior Connor Gilbertson, Phi Kappa Psi member, said. “After we get done with those two days, it’s kind of to the point where we are like ‘Yeah, this is tough,’ but it is a really humbling experience. I’m so happy that my fraternity is able to be a part of it.”
In previous years, Phi Kappa Psi partnered with Hunger Jacks to help SFA students in need. But, this year, they expanded their horizons. Nacogdoches HOPE caters to about 640 families in need in the Nacogdoches County. According to Nacogdoches HOPE’s website, in East Texas, one in every four children and one in every five adults are food insecure.
“This year is the first year we decided to switch it up and do it on a bigger scale,” Gilbertson said. “So, we’re not only helping SFA, but the city of Nacogdoches by going to Nacogdoches HOPE, the local food shelter, and basically boosting the event to a lot bigger means than what it was before.”
Phi Kappa Psi hopes students saw a lot more than fraternity brothers camping outside the student center. The fraternity hopes students learned that hunger and poverty is happening all across the world, even here in Nacogdoches.
“We have to explain to people that we are not just [not] eating for 48 hours,” Gilbertson said. “We want to go out of our way to educate them on the whole point of why we’re doing it, not just a couple of guys sitting around a tent and not eating for a couple of days.”
This is Gilbertson’s fourth year participating in this event. He said that it means a lot to him personally because he has witnessed the effects of hunger and poverty.
“I have seen countless people go through that kind of life crisis,” Gilbertson said.
“They either go through a natural weather [disaster] that comes through, wipes them out and they have to try to find food. [There are also] people who go through a long period of unemployment and aren’t being able to provide for themselves or their families. There is also a really big aspect of veterans who aren’t able to get the stuff they need.”
If students would like to learn more about hunger and poverty in Nacogdoches and how they can help, they can visit Nacogdoches HOPE’s website at nacogdocheshope.com.