While most universities and colleges around the country have orientation sessions for new students, few include a service project as part of the agenda.
During the Saturday morning Jet Days ’15 schedule, time was set aside for new students and parents, along with Newman faculty, staff and current students, to package 50,000 meals for children in Tanzania. In addition to the Newman representatives, several sisters from the Adorers of the Blood of Christ (ASC) volunteered for the project as well.
Three separate shifts of volunteers, divided into teams, took bulk rice, fortified soy protein, vegetables, essential vitamins and minerals and created individual meal packets. The group that helped facilitate the Newman project is Outreach, Inc., a non-profit organization that helps address hunger issues internationally.
According to Outreach, each package provides six nutritionally complete servings to feed the starving children around the world and the hungry in the United States for 25 cents per serving.
“The power of these meal packaging events is it gives people something practical to do to help feed the hungry,” said Outreach, Inc. Vice President of Private and Public Partnerships Rick McNary. “We see images of children in Africa starving and we don’t know what to do and we feel bad. The real power of this connection at Newman University is that these meals…are going to go to the most vulnerable children. It gives people here the ability to do something about a problem they see but often feel like they can’t do anything about.
“It’s a scary thing to go to college the first time and yet they are able to do something practical that’s very meaningful and build relationships as they’re doing it. It’s fun. They’re building teamwork and they’re getting to know people across the table for each other,” McNary added.
The effort was unexpected but welcomed by new freshman students at Newman.
“I would not expect this from a college,” freshman student Amy Emerson said. “Maybe a prayer group or a church together, but it’s awesome to know as a college community we can join forces and help people. I did not expect that, so it’s been a very pleasant surprise.”
Newman Associate Professor of Nursing Amy Siple gave up a portion of her weekend to take part in the packaging project with her son Nate, a Newman student, and daughter Rachel, a high school student.
“In the nursing department we are very much into service learning opportunities and service in general, so if we can love other people as Christ loves us through service projects – what a blessing. And to do it alongside students and even my own children is just an added bonus,” Siple said.
In addition to assembling of the meal packages, students and parents learned about world hunger and specifically the Adorers ministry to feed the poorest of the poor in Tanzania. The presentation slides included on the educational sessions are below.
McNary believes that events like Newman’s Jet Day service project create awareness for groups and individuals who have the ability to help, and that education is crucial for those affected by hunger.
“The power of this is it gets kids in school. One of the most critical components of keeping people from starving to death is education. Education is what takes people out of poverty,” McNary explained. “In the hunger space they are always two issues – relief and development. This is a relief effort, that we’re doing. We’re providing a meal, it’s a band aid for today, but it gets them in school and that’s the long-term effect, that’s the development effect of all of this.”
Watch the presentation slides from the World Hunger Education Sessions: