Guelph Fights World Hunger

Thursday, September 12, 2013

  • Volunteers packing over half a million hunger relief meals

    Volunteers packing over half a million hunger relief meals

  • Volunteers packing over half a million hunger relief meals

    Volunteers packing over half a million hunger relief meals

  • Volunteers packing over half a million hunger relief meals

    Volunteers packing over half a million hunger relief meals

  • Volunteers packing over half a million hunger relief meals

    Volunteers packing over half a million hunger relief meals

Written by Alice Lin

On Saturday September 7, members from the Guelph community successfully packed a whopping 650000 meals for hunger relief in two hours. The event was held in collaboration with a non-profit called Universities Fighting World Hunger and its success was collectively attributed to over 2000 dedicated volunteers.

The spirit of the volunteers was infectious―it was a grand display of positivity and compassion by members of the Guelph community. Volunteers signed up as teams and were assigned various tasks to pack a variety of vitamins, rice, pinto beans and dehydrated vegetables in to each of the relief packages. Attendants comprised of University of Guelph students and alumni, the Guelph fire prevention team, staff and family members from TD and Scotiabank, the Guelph public at large and also the City of Guelph MP―Frank Valeriote.

It was disclosed during the opening remarks that a previous commitment was made by the University of Guelph as part of The Better Planet Project to pack a total of one million emergency relief meals to Mauritania; a country currently suffering from famine in West Africa. Last year, Guelph packed 350000 meals in an hour, which simultaneously broke a world record for the most amount of meals parcelled for hunger relief. This year, the initial goal was to pack 685000 meals to make the one million. However, the final amount just barely missed the count.

The atmosphere of the day was fast-paced but uplifting as members of the Gryphon football team carried pounds of rice and other contents of the meal packet to each of the tables. Second year Guelph undergraduate, Tim Jackson, who plays DB on the Gryphon Football team says, “I love helping out the community and making a difference”. The team also helped to wrap the packages, and of course, did the majority of the heavy lifting throughout the day.

One of the most charismatic teams at this juncture, TD Canada Trust Agricultural Services were cheering and chanting. “We are here because this is something that is very near and dear to our hearts.” Said one of the TD volunteers as he fumbled to pack the meals as quickly as he possibly can. “It is important to give back and for people to not be hungry.” The table had already packed over 10 boxes, which is over 350 meals, in less than one hour into the event.

There were also undoubtedly plenty of devoted student leaders at the event. Rebecca Hanemaayer, volunteer coordinator from the CSA food bank was present with several others, rooting for the cause. “We are all so privileged.” Said Hanemaayer. “We cannot forget to give back. People should not underestimate their ability to create positive change and have an impact.”

At the hour mark, it was announced that over 250000 meals had been packed. There was still a long way to go to reach the target when over 100 international students touring the campus entered the vicinity. The group was led by Mike Lee, a recent Guelph alumnus that graduated with a M.Sc. in Bioinformatics. “A lot of international students thought that Guelph was just a big farm, but they are all really taken back by the diversity of people here and their giving nature.” Shortly after snapping a couple of pictures, Lee led the students to join in the event to fight world hunger.

One of the primary organizers of the event, Stephanie Butler, the Community Engagement Special Project Manager working under the Office of the President. Butler graduated from Guelph Humber College in journalism and had a deep passion for the cause. “It’s shameful that people are hungry when we clearly have enough to feed everyone in the world.” When asked why she cared about this issue, she took a few seconds to collect her thoughts and confidently declared, “Hunger is awful. Guelph is known as Canada’s food university. We are positioned really well to take responsibility in tackling this global issue and really make a big difference.”

It was a demonstration of great resiliency as the community came together as a mass to challenge such a complex global issue. Additionally, food was supplied through the generous support from the Kinross Gold Corp, a key sponsor of The BetterPlanet Project. Furthermore, it was also through partnerships and coaction with groups outside of Guelph (Numana Inc., ONEXONE, and the United Nations World Food Program) that made this event possible.

 To find out more or to get involved with The BetterPlanet Project, visit: http://www.thebetterplanetproject.ca/.

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