Splash and Stop Hunger Now!

So since January a group of Meredith Students have been pouring our energy into planning SPLASH which was basically a Meredith event that we used to latch onto NCSU’s Stop Hunger Now project (read N&O article below). I just found out this morning that THEY BROKE A WORLD RECORD (yes, a WORLD record) for the most meals assembled in one day. I could cry.
Thanks to all the MC students that went out, especially the class of 2011! You guys are amazing and were a part of something HUGE!
And huge thanks to Jessica for making it a convocation. You rock.

Hungry to help
College students gather to pack a million meals for needy people

DANNY HOOLEY, Staff Writer
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RALEIGH – Outside, it was a lovely Saturday morning, but about 1,500 service-minded college students and other volunteers chose to spend a few hours inside N.C. State University’s Carmichael Gymnasium to make a dent in world hunger.
The daylong University Million Meal Event was organized and supervised by the Raleigh-based Stop Hunger Now organization, which held identical events Saturday at UNC-Chapel Hill and East Carolina University, drawing about 4,000 volunteers altogether.

In nine hours, the volunteers packaged more than 1 million meals, to be distributed to the destitute and hungry in El Salvador, Haiti and India.

Volunteer and NCSU sophomore Glenda Diaz, 19, of Charlotte said the issue of hunger is particularly close to her heart.

“I come from Puerto Rico,” Diaz said. “I know a lot of people from South America. I have a lot of friends that come to here, and their families still live starving.”

The gym was packed with about 500 students and volunteers from local businesses for each three-hour shift. Besides the three host schools, volunteers also came from Meredith College, Peace College, Duke University, N.C. Central University and St. Augustine’s College.

Inside Carmichael Gymnasium, sacks of rice and soy protein were piled along one wall. They were opened one by one at long tables where volunteers lined up shoulder to shoulder to pack four basic ingredients — textured soy protein, dehydrated vegetables, a vitamin mixture and rice — into plastic bags.

The bags were weighed and heat-sealed to have a shelf life of three to five years, then boxed and rushed out to a waiting truck. Each time 10,000 bags were packaged, NCSU volunteer Candace Jones hit a gong, which sounded every few minutes.

“Most of the meals we package are for school feeding programs,” said Stop Hunger Now president Ray Buchanan. He cited studies that show school feeding programs increase enrollment, most dramatically for girls. That correlates with lower birth rates and less infant mortality.

Buchanan founded Stop Hunger Now 10 years ago, and this is the third year it has staged the university event with the help of Mike Giancola, director of NCSU’s Center for Student Leadership, Ethics and Public Service.

The first year, volunteers packaged 150,000 meals. The second, that number was doubled.

Buchanan and Giancola decided to try to top that in a big way. So they recruited other universities to reach the 1 million meal goal, and their ambitions keep growing.

Stop Hunger Now has six packaging facilities in Goldsboro, Charlotte, South Hill, Va., and Lynchburg, Va.

“In the next year, we’ll be opening five or six more,” Buchanan said. “In the next five years, we’ll have over 60 locations nationwide.”

This year, the overall goal is to package between 5.5 million and 6 million meals. Five years from now, Buchanan wants to package 100 million meals annually.

Along with the manual labor, students and sponsors raised money for Stop Hunger Now — a total of $8,500 at NCSU and UNC. Meredith College sophomore class president Nataleigh Timberlake, 19, brought in a $200 donation from her school, as well as about 130 of her fellow students for the packaging work. She organized a canned food drive and a lunch on the lawn to coincide with the day’s events.

“I figured if I got involved, my other classmates would kind of follow,” Timberlake said.

It wasn’t all work. Rock and hip-hop blasted over the public address system, prompting a little hip-shaking along the assembly lines. “Desperate Housewives” actor Jesse Metcalfe visited the UNC and NCSU campuses during the day to offer thanks and encouragement.

But mostly, it was about working in the community and learning about leadership, Buchanan said.

“It’s about showing them what they need to be as leaders in changing the world,” he said. “You don’t know which one of these students here today might be a congressman or a senator or the president in 15 or 20 years.”

danny.hooley@newsobserver.com or (919) 829-4728

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