Volunteers of all ages filled Manhattan’s National Guard Armory to package meals for an Alpha Zeta-organized philanthropy event Sunday afternoon.
Alpha Zeta, the professional agricultural fraternity at K-State, makes effort to organize an event to feed the hungry each fall, but took a different approach this year by giving aid both domestically and internationally. Also new this year, they organized the event in collaboration with Outreach, a nonprofit organization with the goal of providing safe food and water to the hungry.
“25,000 meals are going to go to the Philippines,” said Rick McNary, vice president of Outreach, Inc. “15,000 are going to feed people locally.”
Alpha Zeta members said they hope that, with the growing need for more meals in Kansas and United States, the event would draw a greater crowd of volunteers than past events. However, finding the large number of volunteers needed to package thousands of meals is always difficult.
“We basically just had to spread the word any way we could,” Brock Burnick, senior in agriculture economics and Alpha Zeta president, said. “We used email chains and contacted sororities, fraternities, groups that commonly volunteer.”
Another challenge with this years’ food packaging event, as with those in the past, was Alpha Zeta’s attempt to raise funds.
“We’ve had issues fundraising and getting money,” Burnick said. “We wanted to see if more people would get involved if some of the food went locally.”
Volunteers this year worked in 90-minute shifts, making one of two types of meals: local or international. Meals sent locally consisted of macaroni and cheese, while international meals, sent to the flooded and destroyed Philippines, contained soy protein, rice and vitamins.
The event drew so many volunteers that the assembly line tables had a to squeeze in extra people to accommodate all those willing to help.
“It reinforces that people care about hunger and will jump at the opportunity to do something about it,” McNary said. “When they see devastation on television, they show up today because they can actually help.”
As volunteers packaged food and filled boxes with meals, cheering each time a box — which contained over 200 meals — was filled, McNary walked around and thanked them for the impact they were making. In a 90-minute shift, volunteers were helping to feed around 3,000 people.
Laurel Pierson, senior in animal sciences, said she volunteered not only because she’s an Alpha Zeta officer, but also because of her passion for feeding the hungry.
“I’m really passionate about food insecurity, both in the United States and internationally,” Pierson said. “It’s easy to use my Sunday afternoon at this event.”
Alpha Zeta intends to host at least one food packaging event each year during the fall, and always encourages more students to volunteer and get involved.
“If students want to get involved, the best way is to partner with Alpha Zeta in some way,” Burnick said. “Our dream is to make this less of a College of Ag event and more of a K-State event.”