|College students meet million-meal challenge|
Students pack meals at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill during Stop Hunger Now’s Million Meal Event on Aug. 23. UMNS photos by John Gordon.
By John Gordon*
Sept. 10, 2008 | RALEIGH, N.C. (UMNS)
Take more than 4,000 students and volunteers, add tons of rice and soy, then blend well for one day.
Volunteers are among more than 4,000 participants assisting at three North Carolina campuses.
Those ingredients made for a record-breaking challenge as students from eight North Carolina colleges and universities joined together to pack more than a million meals for hungry people. The food is now en route to El Salvador, Haiti and India.
Stop Hunger Now, a Raleigh-based non-profit organization, held the Aug. 23 challenge on the campuses of North Carolina State University at Raleigh, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and East Carolina University at Greenville.
"We’re really excited to be here and hopefully we can make a big difference," said Mariana Chuck, a Duke University graduate student. "I think that people lose sight of what’s going on in the world."
The need for food is critical, said the Rev. Ray Buchanan, a United Methodist minister and founder of Stop Hunger Now.
"World hunger is the biggest obscenity of our age," he said. "Right now, over 850 million—that’s two-thirds of the world’s population—goes hungry every single day."
The students set up funnel stations to fill plastic bags with soy, a chicken flavoring capsule that contains 21 vitamins, dehydrated vegetables and rice. Other students weighed, sealed and packed the bags and loaded the boxes onto trucks.
When mixed with hot water, each bag contains a balanced meal that can feed six people.
"I didn’t realize, like, how many people were hungry in the world," said Lauren Vinesette, a student and member of the Raleigh Wesley Foundation, a United Methodist ministry for college students. "This is the highlight of my day. I think it’s pretty cool that we can come together and do this."
Actor Jesse Metcalfe, best known for his recurring role on the ABC TV drama "Desperate Housewives," also dropped by to encourage the students.
Actor Jesse Metcalfe joins the assembly line at North Carolina State.
"Twenty-five-thousand people a day die from hunger-related illnesses," Metcalfe said. "There’s plenty of food to feed everyone on the planet. So, you know, why is this not being done?"
Stop Hunger Now began feeding the world’s hungry 10 years ago. In that time, the organization has sent meals to more than 60 countries.
The organization’s previous record for a one-day packaging event involving college students was 300,000 meals.
"We’re in the midst of an unprecedented global food crisis," Buchanan said. "There’s been a perfect storm of factors that have come together that have created a global food crisis that is threatening millions more people."
Buchanan said an increased demand for beef and chicken in China and India, combined with ethanol production in the United States, has increased the demand for corn and driven up prices. The recent sharp rise in fuel prices also has increased the cost of providing meals to developing countries.
The Rev. Steve Hickle, chairman of the board of Stop Hunger Now and pastor of Fairmont United Methodist Church in Raleigh, said the University Million Meal Event went a step beyond providing meals to the hungry. It also helped raise awareness.
Student Brittany Johnson, another member of the Raleigh Wesley Foundation, said teamwork helped exceed the 1 million goal by more than 10,000 meals."I think at least 4,000 volunteers are all getting a message of hunger and taking that to heart," Hickle said. "So it’s like a whole generation of people that’s been awakened to what they can actually do about world hunger—to help raise the funds and work with the delivery system that is in place and really have an impact."
Students load food boxes for distribution to El Salvador, Haiti and India.
"There are so many people here that are just helping, and we get so much accomplished with everyone working together," she said.
Stop Hunger Now holds similar events, though on a smaller scale, at churches. With the help of students, churches and other volunteers, Buchanan believes the organization’s goal is attainable.
"The vision of Stop Hunger Now is simply to achieve a world without hunger," he said. "We can do that—in our lifetime—if all of us simply will do what we can."
*Gordon is a freelance producer based in Marshall, Texas.
News media contact: Fran Coode Walsh, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.
Million Meals for Hungry
How Hunger Feels
Kids Fight Hunger
Stop Hunger Now marks 10th with million meal event
Hunger banquet gives students taste of reality
UMCOR trains farmers to expand food supply
World food crisis especially impacts the poor
Food shortages hurt church response to hunger
U.N. urges practical steps to help hungry
Stop Hunger Now
U.N. Food Crisis