Friday, February 3, 2023

UM Pack-A-Thon Prepares More than 153,000 Meals to Fight Child Hunger

Ole Miss Students and members of the Oxford community help fill individual food bags to send to Kenya. Over the past 4 years, Feed the Hunger has filled almost half a million bags in Oxford alone.
Ole Miss Students and members of the Oxford community help fill individual food bags to send to Kenya. Over the past 4 years, Feed the Hunger has filled almost half a million bags in Oxford alone.

The University of Mississippi community packed some 153,840 meals the weekend of Feb. 28-March 1 during Pack-A-Thon, a community service program organized by Feed the Hunger organization. The meals will be sent to Kenya to feed malnourished children.
Nearly 560 faculty, staff, students and members of the Oxford community – including a team of current students and recent graduates of the School of Business Administration – packed 140,000 meals during the weekend event at the university’s Jackson Avenue Center. The meals are enough to feed 641 children for an entire school year.
The business school team, co-chaired by Casey Hice, a senior education major from Newnan, Ga., and Kate Redding, a senior marketing major from Alexandria, Va., also raised $42,300 to support the effort. Hice and Redding said they have been part of the event since their freshman year, and in 2011 went to Haiti to donate meals they helped pack.
UM was the first college to participate in the annual event, and Ole Miss volunteers have packed more than 500,000 meals to support Feed the Hunger, or FTH, since 2011, they said.
Melinda Staples, FTH director of projects, was pleased with the university’s contribution to the success of this year’s efforts.
“Shout this information throughout the university and the community!” Staples said. “This is a great accomplishment and one I hope that Ole Miss and Oxford will continue to do in the years to come.”
Feed the Hunger provides rice, soy protein, dehydrated vegetables and vitamin powder to hungry children. These foods are donated by individuals and groups and packaged by volunteers during their food collection event, Pack-A-Thon.
According to UNICEF, a child dies of starvation every 3.6 seconds. These children are not only hungry for food, but other basic things such as good health care, education and protection from harm, lack of which is detrimental to a child’s emotional and spiritual being.
In view of this, FTH gives spiritual food: the word of God to those who have need of it.
“We partner with strategic Christian leaders around the world and come alongside of them to help them meet the spiritual and physical hunger in the needy and the lost,” Staples said. “FTH equips these leaders to feed spiritual hunger with tools like Bibles, community centers or church buildings, bicycles and micro-enterprise projects.”
The meals will be sent to Nairobi, Kenya, where FTH has a warehouse, and the money raised will be used to pay for the food ingredients and shipping costs, she said.
“Currently, we feed about 1,055 children a day in Kenya; children in the Kawangware slums and Kibera slums (the worst in the world), children in the Pokot region (heavy tribal fighting) and children in the South Horr and Lake Turkana region (tribal fighting),” Staples said.
Feed the Hunger is a 501(c) 3 organization founded in 1968 by J.L. Williams and his wife, Patt. It started as New Direction Ministries, became New Directions International and then Feed the Hunger. The organization feeds more than 8,200 children each day worldwide.
FTH feeds two categories of people: those who are hungry to be fed and those who are hungry to feed others. Olivia Rearick, a senior in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media from Glen Ellyn, Ill., who volunteered at this year’s Pack-A-Thon, said she is glad she contributed to feeding hungry children.
“It felt rewarding to volunteer in the pack-a-thon for the third time,” Rearick said. “Each year, it gets bigger and that makes me so happy.”
To the Ole Miss community, Staples said, “Thank you so much for making the event great. Lives are changed because of you; not only lives in Kenya but also the people that came to pack. You did it. Congratulations!”
–Esther Appiah, Ole Miss News Desk

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