Terps Against Hunger, an organization that has grown substantially over the last three years, put together a meal packing event for the less fortunate in the Metro D.C. area Tuesday in the Memorial Chapel.
“This is a smaller event, we don’t have smaller events too often,” said Josh Turskey, a junior architecture major. “But our larger scale events…we count large scale anything over 100 thousand, we’ll do about five to six times a year.”
Turskey first got involved in major service his freshman year of high school, when he started a non-profit called Every 5 Seconds, referencing how often children were dying of hunger. Last year he won the Do Good challenge, which required pitching an idea to a board before carrying it out. Turskey now serves as the TAH president.
Turskey began the evening by giving a short speech in the back of the chapel, before the group put on clear hair nets and gathered around where the altar would be. Turskey then spoke to the group again and explained how to fill, seal and pack a meal. There were roughly six groups of 12 to 20 working to package meals.
When the work began, it was fast and effective. Each person received one task to complete over and over while popular songs played in the background. Turskey encouraged shouting out of both celebration and necessity. It was not long before shouts of “Rice!” and “Soy!” could be heard over the loud music.
The food packed into the meals is not the average lunch. According to Turskey, processed foods can actually be more unhealthy for the hungry, so the ingredients packed are like rice: universal.
“Once I got here I discovered so much about the University I didn’t know,” said Melva Coles, an American Studies graduate student. Coles works as an event sales and office assistant at Memorial Chapel, and has worked with TAH for two years. She said she did not know about the organization until she had the position at the Chapel and joined the United Campus Ministry.
“It is hugely important to give back,” said Xavier Daschner, a freshman engineering major, “And honestly these events are fun.” Daschner was one of the many people scooping one of the four ingredients and pouring it into a funnel. The event was loud, not just from the music, but from the roar of conversation.
That roar will be louder come Sunday when Terps Against Hunger moves to a new location. “This year we’ll be doing 400 thousand meals in the Xfinity Center,” said Turskey. As part of a Homecoming event, more than two thousand volunteers will be present helping to pack meals, according to Turskey.
When Turskey first joined Terps Against Hunger his freshman year, he said there were only four members.
Photos by Zach Phillips