True Maroon students at MSU pack 10,000 meals to combat world hunger

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

For the second consecutive year, Mississippi State students—many of whom are enrolled in True Maroon First-Year Experience courses—volunteered today [Oct. 30] to pack 10,000 nutritious meals in an effort to combat malnutrition and aid in the worldwide fight against hunger. (Photo by Hunter Hart)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—For the second consecutive year, Mississippi State students volunteered today [Oct. 30] to pack 10,000 nutritious meals in an effort to combat malnutrition and aid in the worldwide fight against hunger.

Taking place in the university’s Bost Extension Center, the project was sponsored by MSU’s Center for the Advancement of Service-Learning Excellence in collaboration with the Raleigh, North Carolina-based Stop Hunger Now international hunger relief organization.

 Meals packed by the students—many of whom are enrolled in a True Maroon First-Year Experience course—will be distributed to those in need around the U.S and abroad.

Weighing between 389-394 grams, each meal bag contains a vitamin packet and combination of dehydrated vegetables, dehydrated soy and rice. According to event organizers, one bag will feed a family of six for one day.

MSU President Mark E. Keenum thanked the students for dedicating time to “engage in such a wonderful, worthwhile program that can impact lives.”

“Every single year, we have tens of millions of people—many of whom are young children—who perish for one simple reason: they didn’t get enough food to eat,” Keenum said. “There are huge challenges for your generation, and I want all of you to think about your future and how you can be leaders who make a difference and impact the world that you are about to inherit.”

Pat Ware, program manager for Stop Hunger Now’s meal packing location in Jackson, said 25,000 people die every day from hunger and hunger-related illnesses. Every six seconds, a child dies from hunger, he added.

“Think about how many people fit into your stadium during a home football game. It would only take about four days to fill it up with the amount of people that perish from just not having enough food,” Ware said.

Ware said his organization founded the meal packaging program in 2005 to provide meals to school feeding programs, vocational schools, early childhood education centers, medical clinics and orphanages in high-need areas around the world.

“When we provide these meals, parents don’t have to make the decision of which child to send to school that day,” he said, adding that “we’ve seen attendance rates double, triple and even quadruple in some areas.”

Charley C. Rhea, a freshman mechanical engineering major from Birmingham, Alabama, participated in the event as part of associate dean and professor of engineering James Warnock’s True Maroon First-Year Experience course.

“We were going through this systematically, but when you think about it, that’s 60,000 people we just fed, and it took us not even an hour to do it,” she emphasized.

“I’ve never done anything like this, and it was a fun way to make an impact and help people,” she added, while recalling the sound of students breaking into the “Maroon and White” chant as they packed meals.

October is World Hunger Action Month. Follow the conversation on Twitter, using hashtag #WHAM2015.

For more information about Stop Hunger Now, visit www.stophungernow.org.

CASLE was launched in early 2013 as a joint venture between MSU’s Office of the Provost and Extension Service. Promoting university ideals of citizenship and service is its primary mission.

More information on CASLE is found at www.servicelearning.msstate.edu, http://bit.ly/CASLE-FB and twitter.com/CASLE_MSU

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.