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Students and alumni team up to fight hunger

A Homecoming service event in East Gym yielded almost 50,000 meals that will feed some of the world's most impoverished communities.

Elon students, alumni, faculty and staff packed East Gym on Nov. 9 to put together meals for an international relief organization called "Stop Hunger Now."

On a day when it would have been easy to focus solely on spending time with friends and family, hundreds of Elon students and alumni instead packaged tens of thousands of meals for people they’ll never meet.

More than 250 members of the Elon community, including faculty and staff, filled East Gym early Saturday morning and donned hairnets and gloves in support of an international relief organization called "Stop Hunger Now." Campus Kitchen at Elon University once again sponsored the event, which is now in its fifth year and has become a Homecoming weekend community service tradition.

Representatives of the Stop Hunger Now program set up the packing locations and provided the food, funnels and equipment. Students and alumni 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. Each bag contained enough food for six meals.

Each bag of rice, dehydrated vegetables and chicken seasoning contained enough food for six meals.

The Nov. 9 event ended with approximately 48,000 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 each time.

Elon senior Yvette Bean was among those packaging meals, cheering and even doing some dancing to the music that was blaring all morning.

“I think it’s just a great opportunity to do something that’s bigger than yourself,” the psychology major said. “We’re fortunate enough to be able to eat every day and to be able to help somebody else, so I feel like that’s the least we can do.”

And while service was the morning’s focus, the event also allowed students and alumni an opportunity to reconnect.

“You get to see people that you normally wouldn’t see from different groups, different organizations [and] alumni I haven’t seen in a really long time,” Bean said. “So it’s a really exciting feeling. We’re all dancing to music and just all coming together for a common purpose.”

Volunteers funneled the ingredients into bags before tossing them to another station to be packaged.

The large crowd meant organizers had their hands full coordinating volunteers and ensuring things ran smoothly, but they were happy to be faced with the challenge.

“We are very glad to have so many people helping out this weekend,” sophomore Alex Battaglia said. She’s one of Campus Kitchen’s educational programming team coordinators and helped arranged Saturday’s event. “It means a lot, especially with all the activities going on this morning. It’s really great to see a lot of people willing to help out.”

David Williams ’13 was among those who made a point of taking part. He now works in computer software for JPMorgan Chase & Co., in New York, but said the principles of service he learned at Elon are still important. In fact, as he looked over the schedule of Homecoming weekend events, “this was one that popped out” to him.

“Community service is something I’m big on,” Williams said. “I couldn’t see a better way to spend my morning.”

Philip Jones,
11/11/2013 12:20 PM