Two Dartmouth College freshmen, Brett Matthews and David Steinberg, are determined to combat world hunger. Cofounders of SAFE -- Students Against Famine in Ethiopia -- they have a plan to unite the 10 million college students in the United States to aid the millions facing starvation in Africa. Mr. Matthews and Mr. Steinberg propose that on April 25 college students across the US give up the money they would spend on lunch and donate it to famine relief. They say that if only 10 percent of America's college students participate, $1 million will be raised.
With the help of Dartmouth volunteers, the pair sent letters to the presidents and student leaders at 3,000 colleges. Currently 10 colleges are firmly committed to participate and more are expected to join as students return from spring break.
Money from the students will be channeled through several famine relief organizations, chosen by Steinberg and Matthews for the balance they provide between long- and short-term aid. CARE, Save-the-Children, Oxfam, and the American Red Cross have set up special accounts for funds received through SAFE. Chris Woodward, a field representative for CARE, explains why his organization wholeheartedly supports SAFE. ``It's a great way to tap the enthusiasm that is generated on campuses.'' CARE is sending out letters to colleges in New England urging their support for SAFE, and the Red Cross has agreed to send speakers to participating colleges.
Matthews, the originator of the plan, explains that the give-up-a-meal idea is not new but that coordination on a national scale will make the difference. He says students are overwhelmed by the size and severity of the crisis, and by working together they can feel that their efforts are important. Steinberg agrees that ``students everywhere want to help but ask `How could I possibly make a difference?' They need a place to look and to direct their energies.'' Matthews also wants to make helping as easy for students as possible and asks jokingly, ``Who would miss lunch in their school cafeteria?''
For both students, SAFE has been a learning experience. Matthews explains that he came up with the idea over Christmas break because of media coverage of the famine in Ethiopia. Since that time, however, he has learned that the famine is just as severe in other parts of Africa. ``SAFE really stands for Students Against Famine Everywhere,'' he says. Matthews and Steinberg would be happy with 10 percent participation this year but would like to see SAFE chapters established at every college. ``Famines are not like earthquakes -- our support will be needed for years; next year more colleges will participate. In addition, SAFE can help make students more aware of the underlying causes of famine.''