U students pack meals for Africa

Volunteers packed 100,000 meal packs for children in the Horn of Africa.

Chris Hong, left, and Jaymond Huinh, right, scoop soy into containers for other volunteers to disperse into the manna packs for Feed My Starving Children Saturday morning in the University Field House. The mobile packing event was hosted by the Pre-Med American Medical Student Association and is the first time Feed My Starving Children has been on campus.

Chris Hong, left, and Jaymond Huinh, right, scoop soy into containers for other volunteers to disperse into the manna packs for Feed My Starving Children Saturday morning in the University Field House. The mobile packing event was hosted by the Pre-Med American Medical Student Association and is the first time Feed My Starving Children has been on campus.

Yasin Mohamud

Students from the University of Minnesota, along with volunteers from the public, assembled at the UniversityâÄôs field house early Saturday morning to pack meals with hope that they would reach malnourished children in the Horn of Africa.

Students in the UniversityâÄôs Pre-Med American Medical Student Association  partnered with nonprofit Feed My Starving Children  for SaturdayâÄôs event.

While volunteers usually go to the organizationâÄôs facility to pack meals, they brought the supplies to campus for the âÄúMobilePack âÄù event.

Volunteers packed 100,000 nutritional meals âÄî called MannaPack  meals âÄî that will be distributed to 70 countries around the world where hunger is common.

Pre-Med AMSA President Holly Bui said this was the groupâÄôs first event. They raised $24,000 to pack 100,000 meals. Some of the money came from their sponsor, Kaplan.

The group also received a $1,000 grant from TCF Bank and a $2,000 grant from Coca-Cola to cover the cost of renting the field house.

âÄúWe were researching different volunteer opportunities last spring and I came across Feed My Starving Children and their MobilePack events and noticed we have never really done one at the University, and I thought it would be a great event that would do a lot of good,âÄù Bui said.

The group started looking for sponsors for the event in April and approached the University about hosting the MobilePack.

Feed My Starving Children started doing the MobilePack events a few years ago âĦ it was something I really wanted to bring to the University and figured it would a great way to get students involved,âÄù volunteer coordinator Matt Palm said.

The famine in Africa further motivated the group to move forward with the event, Palm said.

âÄúWhen the famine started making headlines last spring, a lot of multicultural groups and fraternities started reaching out to us and vice versa and wanted to partake,âÄù he said.

Though the group canâÄôt choose where the food goes, regions in crisis like the Horn of Africa, Haiti and Japan are spots where FMSC has pledged most of its help.

âÄúEven though the press has lessened their coverage of the famine in the Horn of Africa, itâÄôs still going on and getting worse,âÄù Palm said. âÄúSo I hope next year we can choose to send the food to that region.âÄù

Rana Mohammed, a junior and vice-president of the pre-med AMSA, said he was happy to see the huge turnout in volunteers.

âÄúAt the University, a lot of students are personally affected by the famine because they have relatives in Somalia and Kenya and might be originally from these regions. So itâÄôs nice to see such a diverse group of people coming together to do a great thing,âÄù Mohammed said.

Since the event was successful, the group hopes to put on a larger one next year with more volunteers.

âÄúWe really want to grow bigger next year and get 1,000 or more volunteers and make sure that it continues year after year,âÄù Bui said.