Students from all backgrounds packed thousands of meals at the Memorial Chapel Tuesday afternoon to send to families in need in the District of Columbia.
It was the second consecutive year the Chapel held the Feed the Families event, Terps Against Hunger President Joshua Turskey said. The event, described as a “multi-faith service project,” brought together around a hundred volunteers, who packed more than 17,000 meals, Turskey said.
Freshman Christine Nzokou said she heard about the event through her CIVICUS program. She said she decided to volunteer because she’s done volunteer work for soup kitchens before and liked it.
“Hunger is a big issue, and this is a job we can all do,” Nzokou said.
She also added that it’s important for her to not think about it as “just work we have to do,” but to also think about the fact that people are actually going to receive these meals: “What would you want it to be like if you were the one receiving the meal?”
Xavier Daschner, a freshman engineering major, heard about it from the Catholic Student Center and wanted to get involved with the community. He’s an Eagle Scout and wanted to continue doing service projects in college.
While pop songs played in the background, volunteers gathered around the tables set up with the ingredients needed for the hand-packed rice casserole meals: vitamin and mineral powder, vegetable flavoring, soy protein powder and rice. In teams, they worked together putting one ingredient after the other in a plastic bag, which was then sealed and put in a box. “Our meals are scientifically formulated for malnourished children,” Turskey, a junior architecture major, said. “We want to make sure that the families in the area get the most nutrition out of these meals.”
Volunteers also got to know each other, conversing as they poured ingredients in the bags. Nzokou described the event as “interactive” and a “fun, easy, chill environment.”
The meals packed during the event, along with meals packed during Terps Against Hunger’s Homecoming Service Project this Sunday, will probably be delivered by next Wednesday, Turskey said.
The organization works with distribution partners, such as Capital Area Food Bank and Nourishment Now, who manage the meals. Along with the food provided by Terps Against Hunger, the distribution partners also provides job training and affordable housing, “so people can come there and really get back up on their feet,” Turskey said.
Last year, the meals went to shelters and food banks in Baltimore.
“I like that everything stays really local,” Senior kinesiology major and Terps Against Hunger Secretary Jennifer Skrenta said. “You know that you’re actually impacting people who live right around the corner, so it makes it really rewarding.”