In an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for meal packaging, Mangai Sundaram ’19 and a team of student volunteers at Andover have organized a preliminary meal packaging event in May that will aim to assemble 11,000 meals in an hour. The event is designed as a test run before the official event next year, where participants will aim to package one million meals.
“The goal of our event is to bring our community together. It’s a great way to meet each other [and] for students and faculty to get to know one another… We’re holding it two weeks before finals week. Those are busy weeks, and we think it’s really important to build a sense of community… while also being Non Sibi and helping one another,” said Sundaram.
Most of the meals will go to Haiti, where hurricanes and other natural disasters have recently occurred. Sundaram was initially inspired to organize the event after prior experiences working as a food packaging volunteer in California and recent experiwences learning about the refugee crisis in the Middle East.
“I went to a Non Sibi event in California, where we meal-packaged. I had so much fun that day, and I remember forming really strong friendships with the people who were there. At the same time, I have been reading a lot about Syria and the refugees who don’t have food, are in dire need, and dying. I thought that we could combine them, so a meal-packaging event was perfect,” said Sundaram.
To organize the test trial in May and the the larger event next year, Sundaram recruited a task force of Andover students to assist in writing grants and greater community outreach and publicization. Carley Kukk ’19, Head of Fundraising, also had previous experiences with food-packaging events that inspired her to participate in this project.
“I participated in a lot of food-packaging events with my dad. It’s been part of my life, and I went to one every year. But when I came to Andover, I missed a lot of them. So when [Sundaram] came to me with this idea, I really wanted to be a part of it,” said Kukk.
Sundaram believes that a major challenge facing the task force is fundraising to pay for the cost of the event and meals.
“We need to raise close to 3,000 dollars… another challenge is recruiting the students to come and participate and inviting them in. In order to fundraise, we’re allowing parents, students, and teachers to sponsor meals. So for just 15 dollars, you can sponsor 50 meals. If you sponsor, your name will be on a box,” said Sundaram.
Jennifer Lee ’18, Chair of the Grant Committee, was recruited by Sundaram for help with writing grant proposals and was inspired to participate in the event through her commitment to Non Sibi values. Lee believes that events like the food packaging event planned for May will help the greater community raise awareness for and rally around issues of hunger and food shortages in many areas of the world.
“What we… aim as a project to accomplish is to not only raise awareness of this issue but also mobilize other students to take part in an event that’s really rooted in the values of community building… It’s a way for more students… to further their awareness of what it means to be a global citizen and to acknowledge the fact that each individual on this campus has the potential and the power to really affect someone else’s life,” said Lee.
The team is working with the charity Stop Hunger Now, who will help them with the logistics once they have completed their goal of raising 3,000 dollars. They are especially focused on encouraging student and community participation when planning this event.
“We want people to sign up because it’s a really fun event and it’s something that can bring the whole Andover community together… It’s a great way to try and tackle hunger… We’re also planning on having a bake sale sometime in May, so I think that will be fun for some people outside of the community to bring in some goods. It will also bring more awareness to the event,” said Kukk.
Editor’s Note: Jennifer Lee is a Sports Editor for The Phillipian.