Dozens of students, faculty, staff and community members grabbed their hairnets to start off Martin Luther King Jr. Day at the University of Indianapolis’ fifth annual Pack Away Hunger service project. Pack Away Hunger is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to helping those who suffer from hunger and malnutrition, according to packawayhunger.org.
Those involved with the project poured into Schwitzer Student Center around 9:30 a.m. to have jobs assigned to them and to start packing meals. There were assembly lines of 12 people per group. Each group had their own set of tasks from scooping grains into bags or packing meals into boxes. Each packaged meal contained a healthy mixture of rice, soy, vegetables and flavorings, according to packawayhunger.org. In just a little over 2 hours, over 50,000 meals were packaged for the Indianapolis community.
Occupational therapy graduate student Kirby Jones said that she got out of bed early on her day off to be active in service in honor of MLK Jr. Day. Jones said she believes packing all the meals will help local food banks because donations to food banks are often less after the holidays.
The project host, UIndy chose to have the food stay close to home and given to local food pantries in Central Indiana. Freshman psychology pre-occupational therapy major Madelyne Higgins said she enjoys giving back to her community. Higgins said that she thinks that those who don’t have the money for nutritious food will be impacted by this service project the most.
In the state of Indiana, 1 in 7 individuals struggle to access to nutritious meals, according to packawayhunger.org. That statistic is why senior public health major Alli Campbell came to help at the project.
“People don’t realize how hard it is to get healthy food,” Campbell said. “Most people around here [UIndy] have to get groceries from gas stations or Dollar General because the area is in a food desert with a lack of available, affordable healthy foods, as well as there is limited transportation to get to grocery stores.”
Giving back to the community is why Campbell, Jones and Higgins alike all came out today on their day off. “Education for Service” is the university’s motto and according to UIndy’s website, UIndy encourages students, faculty and staff to participate in community service projects and volunteer.
“I really like giving back to the community and [making] an impact,” Higgins said. “This shows that we do actually participate in service projects at UIndy.”