The University of Guelph recently completed an incredible feat through the University of Guelph Anti-Poverty Project: they packed over half a million meals for the hungry in a mere two hours. Last week, the weekend of September 6th, 2013, around 2,000 people decided to contribute to the University of Guelph Anti-Poverty Project by spending two hours of a rainy Saturday morning to help put together meals for West Africa, specifically a nation of Mauritania.
Mauritania is located on the Western coast of Africa and has been the location of many issues, including a military coup d’etat, multiple human rights issues such as slavery, female genital mutilation, and more. It is safe to say that this country has high rates of poverty and malnutrition, and the University of Guelph Anti-Poverty Project sets out to do what they can for those affected; those who do not have access to nutritious meals on a daily basis.
The types of people that donated time towards this project included students of the university, alumni, local businesses, community groups, and regular residents of Guelph who merely wanted to help the world in whatever way that they could. The 2,000 people formed into groups of 10 in order to create single-serving meal packages, which included rice, vitamins, soybeans, and vegetables. Al Goodie, a resident who was there with his wife, commented that giving up a few hours is pretty simple, and that it is for a great cause. He also mentioned he came the year before. Indeed, this meal-packing is an annual event held by the University of Guelph Anti-Poverty Project.
The volunteers packed 569,000 individual meals in two hours. Originally, the goal was to pack a million. Although they did not reach that goal, what they did accomplish was amazing and will certainly be much-appreciated by those living in Mauritania.
The chief organizer of the event, Gavin Armstrong, started the project three years ago – meaning this is the third time that the University of Guelph Anti-Poverty Project has helped pack meals for those in need. Armstrong commented that a conference in Kansas inspired the event, where 40 people packed 600 meals in a half hour. Armstrong decided to stick with the same idea, but to increase the scale of the meal-packing as much as possible. The first event had 800 people, while the second also had about 2,000. Collectively, the two events packed over 450,000 meals.
The Universities Fighting World Hunger project, as well as the Better Planet Project–which the University of Guelph also formed–also supported this event. The Universities Fighting World Hunger project is a collection of universities that support and volunteer for international programs and sustainable human development. The key elements of Universities Fighting World Hunger are intellectual discovery and the aim to create a sustainable world that protects the environment and the people. It partners with the UN World Food Programme, and the mission is to create an academic hunger model and to raise awareness and funds for ending world hunger.
The Better Planet Project is a fundraising campaign with the goal of raising $200 million to create change in particular areas that are struggling on a global scale. This includes food, the environment, health, and communities in general. The project plans to invest in teaching and learning, as well as research, in order to answer worldly problems. Overall, they commit to a better planet.
The University of Guelph Anti-Poverty Project is just a stepping stone in the fight against poverty, but every little action can do a world of good, especially for the individuals receiving the food packages. Perhaps one day, even within the next decade, the Universities Fighting World Hunger and the Better Planet Project will see their goals realized.
– Corina Balsamo