Alyandra Ramos ‘22
Merrimack College hosted its fifth Feed Your Neighbor event on Feb. 6 in the Sakowich Center. Over 200 volunteers packed 24,000 meals for the Merrimack Valley Food Bank, which exceeded the previous record of 9,000 meals.
Some donated food was supplied by The Outreach Program and various community organizations, congregations, faculty, staff, and students worked to put the meals together.
Volunteers play a key role in helping Feed Your Neighbor be successful.
“Each year the word spread as more and more communities learn from their members who have had the experience of joining us,” said Joseph Thomas Kelley, who is the Director for the Center of the Study of Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations. “While responding to the challenge that our neighbors in the Merrimack Valley face regarding food, we are at the same time building friendships and coalitions across religious and ethnic communities.”
In addition to volunteers, Feed Your Neighbor also needs to raise funds.
“Each meal costs 25 cents. So, we had to raise $6,000 to cover the cost of meals,” Kelley said.
Everyday people go through countless situations that can plunge them into food insecurity and hunger every. Many of those people also face rising costs of housing and healthcare, and are forced to choose between spending money on housing, healthcare, or food.
Feed America states that in Massachusetts alone has 652,760 people who are struggling with hunger, 167,450 of which are children. 47 percent of the families who struggle with hunger earn too much to qualify for government nutrition assistance programs, such as SNAP benefits, free or reduced price school lunch, or WIC.
“When you come from having everything you need and some you tend to forget the people on the other end of the spectrum,” one student volunteer stated. “I never knew how it felt to go hungry and just knowing that I made somebody’s day easier makes me feel good about myself.”