Teaming Up to End World Hunger

By Purnell T. Cropper | February 17, 2012

By Michael Schwartz ’14

After enjoying snacks and warm beverages in the Sports Pavilion, volunteers from Arcadia University and beyond shuffled into the Dome with a single goal in mind: fight world hunger. For the second year in a row, Arcadia’s Office of Community Service and the international relief organization Stop Hunger Now held a Pack-a-Thon on campus, preparing food for distribution to thousands of children abroad.

Stop Hunger Now has organized the packaging and distribution of more than 60 million meals for the hungry and raises awareness of world hunger, which receives very little media attention. The organization reports that an estimated 25,000 people die of hunger or hunger-related illnesses every day. In developing nations, 10.9 million children five years old or younger perish from malnutrition and related diseases annually—that’s one death every six seconds.

After delivering opening remarks and screening a short promotional video,Andrew Sullivan, Program Manager for Stop Hunger Now in Philadelphia, split volunteers into groups assigned different tasks—measuring, pouring, sealing and packing bags of the nutrient-rich mix of rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables and flavoring. Music boomed from speakers as everyone went to work, interrupted every once in a while by a gong strike to mark 1,000 meals packaged.

Emily Young ’14, who participated in last year’s Pack-a-Thon at Arcadia, cherishes every opportunity she has to help others. “It was a really, really fun experience to get together with all our fellow Arcadians and help out people in need. The goal here is to raise awareness and action on a pressing need that’s going on somewhere else so we come together as an Arcadia community and help out another community in need.”

Cindy Rubino, Arcadia’s Coordinator of Community Service, was thrilled to see volunteers from Arcadia and the local community enjoying themselves while hard at work preparing and packaging nutritious meals. “It’s a lot of fun and everybody is energized by putting the meals together through packing and sealing,” said Rubino. “And as you’re doing it, this is actually going into the hands of somebody as important sustenance for them.”

Rubino was elated with the results from this year’s Pack-a-Thon—more than 10,000 meals are ready to ship—and hopes to continue collaborating with Stop Hunger Now. “We’d like to see this become an annual tradition. It’s for a great cause. It’s a fun, engaging and worthwhile activity for the community.”

Stop Hunger Now’s Philadelphia office has packaged more than two million meals for distribution abroad since it opened last year. Arcadia helped launch the effort, hosting the first major event organized by the new office. While last year’s Pack-a-Thon drew about 40 volunteers, this year’s event was propelled by more than 100 people, including Maria Sciorillo, Miss Philadelphia 2011, and representatives from the Philadelphia Union.

Mike Marcelynas, Marketing Intern for the Philadelphia Union, summed up the organization’s involvement. “When [the Union] chose Chester [as the site for its stadium], they signed that as a part of a mission to help improve Chester, because there are a lot of economic problems there, so any chance we can to help a town or help anyone out that’s struggling, we definitely jump at the chance to do it.”

Jack Jephson, Director of Intramurals and Recreation, was happy that he could host the event in the Dome. He wants to work with Rubino on similar future events like Pack-a-Thon. “I think anything with community service is very important. We have to reach out to our community and try to help out people who are less fortunate,” he said. “Partnering with Cindy for future events is definitely the way I want to move forward.”

Hailey Barger ’12 is one of many students who worked to meet the goal of preparing 10,000 meals at Arcadia’s Pack-a-Thon. “It’s good because we are giving back to help others, but it’s also good community-wise because it brings a lot of people together. Not only Arcadia students but people from the community, like from Glenside and surrounding towns, are all coming out together and we are all working as one for a larger cause.”

The food prepared at the Pack-a-Thon will be delivered to school children in Haiti. The meals are sent to schools as a way to encourage attendance.

Photos by Jin Zhao ’13