It’s that time of the year when we begin reflecting on what to be thankful for, whether it’s friends, family, a warm bed, or a meal at the end of the day.
Thanksgiving reminds us to be grateful for what we have because others might not be as lucky and members of UF understand this, which is why every year they decide to give back to those in need.
During its 10th annual Day of Service on Friday, the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) rallied over 150 students, faculty, staff, and alumni to package 26,000 meals in partnership with Rise Against Hunger.
“We put together a food packaging day for students to come in and focus on one of the four core values of the college, which is service,” said Charlotte Emerson, Director of Student Development and Recruitment for CALS, in an interview. “We believe it is essential to plant a seed with our students in helping them understand the importance of philanthropy, service, and giving back to others.
Rise Against Hunger provides the equipment and food supplies for the event. It costs 39 cents per meal to package, and UF does its own fundraising throughout the year, relying on donors, students, and alumni of CALS.
The day was split into two different shifts. The first shift was from 9:30-11:30 a.m. to complete 12,600 meals. Shift two was from noon-2 p.m. when volunteers finished the second half of the prepping.
The packaging process began with filling the bags — six meals per bag consisting of protein, rice, dehydrated vegetables, a flavor pack, and instructions. Once the meals were prepared and sealed, volunteers placed the bags into boxes for shipping.
The bags can go anywhere in the world. In the past, meals have been sent to Vietnam and Houston, Texas during the flood.
“The impact is locally based on the food we collect, but it is also global in the fact that we can send meals anywhere and help any person/family that needs it,” Emerson said.
Every dime raised goes toward the meals, meaning the university does not receive a profit. If the goal of $8,000 in donations is not met, then UF will use money from another fund to supplement the cost.
A critical part of the success of Friday’s event came from the volunteers. The room was filled with laughter, music, and lighthearted conversation.
First-time volunteer, Megan Edge, couldn’t help but get involved after hearing about the day. She didn’t have to think twice before volunteering two hours of her time.
“I wanted to be able to make a difference and help provide food to people who genuinely need it,” said Edge, a sophomore CALS Ambassador, in an interview. “This event shows that CALS really cares for others, and they want to use their resources to help people who might not have the same opportunities as we do.”