On Wednesday evening, more than 100 students and community members packaged over 10,000 meals in Binghamton University’s Old Union Hall of Old University Union to be distributed to high-need areas around the world.
The event was organized by the business fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi and Rise Against Hunger, a nonprofit global organization whose mission is to end hunger by providing food and aid to the world’s most vulnerable people.
Brothers of the fraternity, students and volunteers from sponsors such as the Big Four accounting firms, Bloomberg, Inc. and Lazarus Rising, entered the Old Union Hall to find tables set up with large volumes of soy protein, vitamin packets, freeze-dried vegetables and rice ready to be packaged. It was brought by the Rise Against Hunger from their Newark warehouse, where the food is stored.
Bruce Ladson, the representative of Rise Against Hunger and assistant program manager of the Newark warehouse, explained how food would be bagged, sealed, weighed, stamped and boxed in order to create meals readily available for those in need. Once they get about 285,000 meals in their warehouse, a partner gets in touch with the corporate office in Raleigh, North Carolina, which informs the warehouse where the greatest need is. The most recent meal packages have gone to Haiti, Mozambique, Swaziland and Zambia.
“There is a great need out there,” Ladson said. “We have so much food, and we are so blessed in this country, but we need to share the wealth. There are so many people that just do not have food at all. We want to give back a little of what we have.”
Furthermore, he explained that Rise Against Hunger buys its own supplies in order to feed the hungry, then breaks even when the organizations raise enough money to package a certain amount of meals.
“We’re right outside NYC, so we mostly work with a lot of corporations there, including schools, churches, synagogues, etc,” Ladson said. “We buy the soy, the rice, the bags, the dehydrated vegetables, but the only thing that is donated to us is the vitamin packets. Once we get all of that, if an organization wants to do that, they will help raise funds to pay for that food, and then once they get enough to cover a minimum of 10,000 meals, we’ll come out to them and help them pack the meals.”
Once underway, participants worked together in assembly-line fashion to mass-produce bagged meals. Groups were made to carry out individual functions such as bagging, sealing and weighing. With each bag containing enough food for six meals, 1,692 bags were filled to produce a total of 10,152 meals.
Tristan Chang, the president of the fraternity and a senior majoring in business administration, explained that after attending a Rise Against Hunger event with his internship over the summer, he had an idea to bring Rise Against Hunger to BU so that attendees may not only provide a service in packaging meals, but also network with event sponsors. These included financial firms which the fraternity frequents with.
“[Rise Against Hunger] happened to correspond with an internship I did over the summer, so I knew about them,” Chang said. “They engage their participants very well, so I knew it would be a perfect fit to bring them to Binghamton to work with the fraternity. The event is great as it allows members to interact with each other and network, while also creating a tangible result in all the food that’s being packaged.”
Cody Putterman, the vice president of professional activities of the fraternity and a junior majoring in accounting, claimed that the event was a great opportunity to give back to the world and hopes to continue to work with Rise Against Hunger in the future.
“We take so many different things for granted,” Putterman said. “We can give back and actually help starving families, so if we have the opportunity to do, there is no reason why we shouldn’t. We already looked for the planning for next spring and hope to have more events like this.”