Despite the pandemic restrictions, many faculty and students still dedicated time packing meals at this newly designed, physically distant volunteer event.
Inside Alumni Gym on Saturday, Sept. 5, the ringing of a gong was immediately followed by an animated cheer. It was a sound that signified another 1,000 meals had been packed and were ready to be shipped across the globe.
Throughout the daylong event, more than 23,000 meals would be packaged at Campus Kitchen’s annual Rise Against Hunger Meal Packing Event. The event was attended by 150 students, faculty, and staff who have an interest in globally impactful service experiences.
Rise Against Hunger has always been a popular and well-attended event at Elon, and this year, the coronavirus pandemic created new challenges for the event organizers. Although hygiene and sanitation measures are always implemented at the event, and this year additional steps were needed to ensure the safety of the participants.
“We really worked to maximize the distance as much as possible,” says Assistant Director of the Kernodle Center for Civic Life Sarah Williams. [OC2]
Fifty meal packers participated in each of the three-hour shifts. Each volunteer was assigned to their own six-foot table, which helped ensure that people stayed physically distant. Even though they were spaced apart, the volunteers worked together to fill bags with rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables, and essential vitamins and minerals.
Between each shift, surfaces and supplies were wiped down in order to provide a clean workspace for the next group. Participants were also required to wear a mask throughout the entirety of the event, in addition to the gloves and hairnets that are usually provided.
The additional guidelines didn’t dampen the enthusiasm in Alumni Gym. The feel-good music and momentous ringing of the gong kept spirits high.
“Students were grateful for an in-person event,” says Williams. “I think we kept the energy up pretty well, and people still enjoyed it.”
The volunteers wore smiles underneath their masks as they scooped ingredients, weighed and sealed bags, and packed the finished meals into boxes.
Rise Against Hunger is an international relief agency dedicated to ending hunger. The organization distributes these pre-packaged meals with the intent to break the cycle of poverty. The food has been sent to countries like Haiti, Mozambique, and Uganda. This year, the meals will continue to be distributed around the world but will also help people in Alamance County directly affected by the pandemic.
Leila Jackson ‘22, a student director at Campus Kitchen, spoke at the event about the local impact of these service experiences. She encouraged the students to continue volunteering, as their work could serve to empower communities worldwide.
At the end of their shift, the volunteers filed out of Alumni Gym with a sense of accomplishment. Williams emphasized how just an hour of work could have a significant impact on others.
“They spent a little time on their Saturday morning and it’s reaching people around our county and around the world.”
For more information on how to get involved, visit the Kernodle office in Moseley Center Room 230, or email staff at email@example.com.