Students & alumni rally to 'Stop Hunger Now'
A Homecoming service event in East Gym produced 35,000 meals that will feed some of the world’s most impoverished communities.
Nearly 150 students and alumni filled East Gym to package food Saturday morning in support of the “Stop Hunger Now” international relief organization.
Wearing hair nets and plastic gloves, some dancing to music that poured from speakers against a far wall, volunteers filled and sealed plastic bags that each contained enough food for six meals. Campus Kitchen at Elon University sponsored the Homecoming weekend community service event.
Representatives of the Stop Hunger Now program set up the packing location and provided the food, funnels and equipment. Students mixed rice, dehydrated vegetables and chicken seasoning into bags before packing them in boxes that will be sent to regions suffering from famine and other natural disasters.
The Oct. 20 event ended with 35,000 meals ready for delivery. As volunteers worked toward that goal, for every 1,000 meals packaged, organizers struck a large gong, which led to loud cheers.
Now in its fourth year, the program is slowly becoming a Homecoming weekend celebration of service. “It’s tradition. We did this when we were here as students, and it’s nice to give back,” said Shante Barnwell ‘11, who joined with sisters from the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. to be involved with the event. “Fellowship, service. You can’t beat it!”
Other volunteers said the same.
“When you can assist someone who is less fortunate, it’s always a good thing,” said Shana Simpson ‘10, another member of Alpha Kappa Alpha. “We’ve always been fortunate to be Elon students and now Elon alumni. It’s good to give back.”
Funding for the meals was made possible by the Kernodle Center for Community Service and Community Engagement, the Civic Engagement Scholars, the Student Union Board, the Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life, Elon Volunteers!, the Office of Student Life and the Faculty Fellow for Civic Engagement.
ARAMARK also provided support through the donation of refreshments for volunteers.
Sophomore Samantha Murray, an elementary education major with an emphasis on special education from Amesbury, Mass., co-coordinated the event with fellow student Catherine Bell and with Steven Caldwell, an Elon staff member who oversees Campus Kitchen through the Kernodle Center. Murray said she believes the Stop Hunger Now events are popular for several reasons.
“The fact that it’s low-key, it’s only a couple of hours, it’s easy and you do do it with friends - that’s appealing. The ease of this appeals to people,” Murray said. “And it’s interesting to see the amount of food we eat on a daily basis compared to what is packaged and needed for people suffering from hunger.”
Participants also had the opportunity to write a “Why I Care” on dry erase boards. Photos of their messages will be included in online photo galleries through the national Stop Hunger Now organization.
“They should do this multiple times a year,” said senior biochemistry major Anthony Pratt of Easton, Mass., as he opened plastic bags in preparation for filling them with food. “You have fun and you see the results of your work. It’s a rewarding feeling.”