The Collegian
Tuesday, February 07, 2023

Event to produce 20,000 meals for starving children

Approximately 100 volunteers will meet at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 19 in the Alice Haynes Commons, and by the time three hours are up, will have packaged 20,000 balanced, nutritional meals through the Stop Hunger Now organization.

"It's kind of a mad house, a big assembly line of people putting together bags of food," said Robert Maddux, adjunct professor of management.

Maddux brought the Stop Hunger Now initiative to Richmond last semester, after deciding to pursue a meal-packaging effort for severely underprivileged children at a school in Orissa, India.

Adrienne Piazza, coordinator of student development and educational programs for the Bonner Center for Civic Engagement, has helped Maddux garner support for the program from faculty, staff and students.

"We have actually reached our goal of $5,000," Piazza said. "There's still some money floating around in pledges as well. There was tabling in the Commons early in the semester, students donated meal swipes in November and then personal donations from faculty, staff and students.

"We also had donations from two local girl scout troops."

Maddux is on the board of an orphanage in India and had done a few events with Stop Hunger Now. He said he decided it was time to bring Stop Hunger Now to Richmond.

Piazza said a Stop Hunger Now representative would come to the event and give a presentation, and then the volunteers would take huge bags of food brought in to make the meals and package, assembly-line-style, 20,000 meals in three hours.

Samantha van Putten, a member of the student leadership team working to organize the event, said she was most excited about the effects the meals would have on encouraging education in India.

"The whole thought behind this is that since the kids will be receiving meals at school, the parents are more inclined to send them to get an education," she said. "I love that it's not just putting a Band-Aid on the problem, but it's really having a secondary effect of aiding education."

Van Putten said she liked the organization's strategy for sending meal packaging supplies.

"Basically, Stop Hunger Now says, 'A week before we come, tell us how much money you have, and we'll give you the supplies to make the equivalent amount of meals,'" she said, "which is really awesome because if you don't make your goal it's not like the event is off -- you just don't make as many meals; or if you have more money, you'll make more meals."

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Maddux said other non-Richmond events with Stop Hunger Now had already resulted in 110,000 meals ready to go to India, and Richmond's 20,000 meals were going to be added to the tally.

Volunteers for Stop Hunger Now have packaged a total of 37,865,466 meals in its 12 years of existence for 72 countries, according to the organization's website.

"I know we're changing lives," Maddux said. "I've seen the organization. I've seen what we can do on the ground. I know that with Stop Hunger Now, 97 percent of the money raised gets turned into food. Often you're giving to a cause and you don't know where the money is going, but with Stop Hunger Now, you can see it."

Contact staff writer Liz McAvoy at elizabeth.mcavoy@richmond.edu

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