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Peter Fish Ready to Make Return
October 13, 2005

When a little orange fish reappears on the Calvin College campus October 17 it will be swimming in a somewhat bigger school than a year ago.

During the weeks between October 17 and November 7, the Social Justice Coalition (SJC) at Calvin will spread awareness of world hunger and poverty with a repeat of last year’s Peter Fish Campaign, an effort which netted $6,300 for Bread for the World and the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC).

The SJC plans to pass out more Peter Fish - bright -orange, fish-shaped banks - than it did last year. It is beginning with an initial supply of 500 fish, but ultimately hopes to double that number.

"We're trying to get roughly a thousand flooding the campus," says Dave Salverda, a Calvin senior philosophy major and co-leader of the SJC who works on world poverty and hunger initiatives.

The plastic fish banks are familiar to generations of Christian Reformed children who packed them full of money to combat world hunger (one reason last year's organizers believed the Peter Fish campaign was so successful).

The CRWRC has used the Peter Fish (inspired by the biblical story of the apostle Peter using a coin taken from a fish's mouth to pay taxes) for years to raise awareness of world hunger.

To flood the campus with Peter Fish, the SJC is changing its distribution methods.

This year SJC members will deliver one Peter Fish per residence hall suite and one fish per apartment in Calvin's on-campus housing.

The filled fish will, as last year, be collected at Calvin's Living Our Faith Together (LOFT) worship service and at a collection site at Johnny's.

Also on Wednesday, October 19, the coalition is holding a sunrise-to-sunset fast for students, faculty and staff in the Calvin community who wish to participate.

Salverda, a native of Cambridge, Ont., says he wants to be sensitive about fasting issues - particularly for those who have suffered from eating disorders.

"I'm always hesitant with fasts," he says, "because people have a hard time with it, and I don’t want them to feel guilty. I don't want people to feel like if they don't do this, they don’t care."

And there are other ways, he adds, to express solidarity with those who care about poverty and hunger.

On Thursday, October 20, Salverda will speak on "Issues of Hunger," in the basement of Calvin's Bolt-Heyns-Timmer residence hall.

The issues are complex, he says.

"Currently, between 30,000 and 40,000 people die of hunger every single day. This stems from a lot of different problems: Economic problems, trade problems. But it's also natural problems: famine, drought, flooding. We can’t do anything about natural problems other than be quick to relieve - and we should be quick to relieve. But structural problems, issues of economic injustice and international trade, are problems that can and should be worked out."

The SJC will also host a letter-writing campaign targeting a specific case of world hunger. Salverda is considering directing the letters toward the situation in Niger where almost one-third of the population (three million out of 11 million people) is entering the starvation phase of hunger as a result of severe famine.

See the follow-up release on the project

~written by media relations staff writer Myrna Anderson