By Jenny Arnold
Wofford students, including Donovan Hicks, left, of Boiling Springs, and Maria Kapousidis, right, of Spartanburg, help prepare and package meals for a Stop the Hunger Now project, at the college in Spartanburg on Sunday afternoon.Armed with measuring cups and funnels, Wofford College freshmen donned plastic gloves and hair nets and packaged rice, soy flour and other food to kick off their school year on Sunday. (Photo by Tim Kimzey/Spartanburg Herald-Journal).
Inside Benjamin Johnson Arena, the first-year students packaged the meals as part of Stop Hunger Now's effort to feed malnourished children in under-developed countries, said rising junior Jervey Roper, a member of the school's orientation team that coordinated Sunday's event.
The 20,000 meals the Wofford students packaged will be sent to various locations around the world.
“Living in America, we take things for granted,” Roper said. For many living in under-developed countries, it's a challenge just to find transportation to buy food, let alone be able to afford it, he said.
Roper, who participated in the effort at Wofford last year, said it's a good experience for freshmen to start off their education at Wofford and to build life skills by giving back.
“And this is a great way for them to get to know each other,” he said.
Stop Hunger Now is a Raleigh-based international hunger relief agency that has coordinated the distribution of food and other lifesaving aid to children and families in countries all over the world since 1998, according to the organization's website, www.stophungernow.org.
Stop Hunger Now created its meal packaging program in 2005. The program perfected the assembly process that combines rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables and a flavoring mix that includes 21 essential vitamins and minerals into small meal packets. Each meal costs only 25 cents. The food stores easily, has a shelf-life of five years and transports quickly.
Stop Hunger Now works with international partners that ship and distribute the meals in-country. The majority of Stop Hunger Now's meals supply school lunch programs. Due to the ease of assembly and transport, meals can be shipped to areas in crisis. According to its website, the organization's partners packaged 275,108 meals last week.
As songs by Toby Keith, Guns ‘N' Roses and Nelly blasted through the arena, students stood at long tables assembling the food products in an assembly-line fashion. Other students packaged the bags in cardboard boxes, closed them with packaging tape and carried them to a moving van outside the arena.
Freshman Emily Precht of Columbia said it was an exciting and humbling experience to participate in Sunday's event, a day before Wofford students head back to class.
“It's fun too,” she said. “It's a bonding experience, but we're also helping people.”
Donovan Hicks of Boiling Springs said the event gave him a sense of pride that Wofford freshmen were starting their school year off by packing thousands of meals for the hungry. For him, as a Bonner Scholar who will have to perform 10 hours a week of community service and 280 hours during the summer, it was a good way to transition into giving back.
“I'll never forget it,” he said, with a smile. “We can say we helped feed the hungry today, which is good. And it's so much fun. We're dancing over here.”
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