It’s hard to imagine waking up every day not knowing where you’ll find your next meal. A group of University of Mississippi students are working with the organization Feed the Hunger, a non-profit that works to feed spiritual and physical hunger.
They hold meal packing events known as Pack-A-Thons. Ole Miss students recently organized Oxford’s eighth annual Pack-A-Thon that will take place Friday, March 3, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. and Saturday, March 4, from 9-11 a.m., noon to 2 p.m., and 3 to 5 p.m at Oxford Intermediate School.
“Our goal for this year’s event is to raise $54,000,” said Claire Dutreix, a sophomore from Louisiana who is this year’s Feed The Hunger chairman. “We have to raise this amount of money for the Pack-A-Thon because each meal costs 0.28 cents.”
Dutreix helps oversee, plan, organize, and fundraise for the Pack-A-Thon. She also helps guide other school’s Pack-A-Thons, such as Mississippi State. Money is raised from online donations promoted on social media, sorority and fraternity donations, and support from local businesses and churches. Donors are encouraged to give in increments of $75 that can feed a child for a whole year.
The Pack-A-Thons bring together volunteers from UM, Oxford, Lafayette areas to assemble meals that will be shipped all over the world to places, such as Haiti, Kenya, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Eastern Kentucky.
The meal packs include rice, dehydrated vegetables, soy protein and vitamin powder, which all contain vital nutrients. In 2010, the University of Mississippi was the first university to work with the non-profit organization, Feed The Hunger, and hold a Pack-A-Thon.
Organizers are hoping to pack 200,000 meals this year, compared to the 180,000 packed in 2017. Over the past eight years, the Ole Miss Pack-A-Thon has packed over one million meals, which they achieved after last year’s event. The success ofOle Miss’s Pack-A-Thons have inspired at least six other universities around the nation to hold their own event.
For the past eight years, groups of Ole Miss students have taken trips to places such as Kenya and Haiti to personally deliver packaged meals. Sophomore from North Carolina, Elizabeth Lung, has been part of Feed The Hunger for two years.
Feed the Hunger is special to her, and she does all she can to help spread the word about it by raising money to buy supplies, handing out flyers on campus, and sharing the word on social media. In the past two years, Lung traveled to Haiti and Kenya to deliver the meals from the Oxford Pack-A-Thon, an experience that shows her firsthand how much all the hard work has paid off.
“Seeing how the kids light up when they would see our bus pull into their village every morning was amazing,” she said. “It was so important for them to know and see that people truly do care about them …
“The trips impacted my entire perspective and outlook on life. Being able to see the way these people live, and seeing how willing they were to welcome us into their homes, and for them to allow us to help them was a truly humbling experience.”
Lung said a little boy named Franklin stayed by her side the whole week. “He was so excited to show me his school uniform, which had clearly been passed down for years,” she said, “and to show that he knew how to speak English. He was so grateful for the meals that we brought him.”
Lung said experiences like those showed her how the organization’s hard work is going towards something special.
“I believe that we have a responsibility to serve others without a reward,” she said, “and I will forever continue to be an advocate for Feed the Hunger and support this organization for years to come.
To sign up for a Pack-A-Thon shift or donate to Feed The Hunger, visit feedthehunger.org/donate.