St. John’s University (SJU) community members gathered last week to package and send more than 22,000 meals to feed the hungry.
Last week, 22,860 meals were packed by 80 volunteers — including men’s basketball coach and SJU alumnus Chris Mullin and SJU President Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw — at a hunger initiative event on the Jamaica campus.
Patrick Holton, director of employer relations at SJU, volunteered at the event on Monday, Sept. 26. Holton cited the university’s Vincentian heritage — inspired by the compassion and service of St. Vincent de Paul — as motivation to get involved in the initiative.
“From the university’s perspective — the Vincentian perspective — the students, faculty across the university are always looking for ways to give back,” Holton said.
Holton explained that organizers split Carnesecca Arena, the campus’ multipurpose gym complex, into three large packing stations where a mixture of student, professional and faculty volunteers worked together. Volunteers packed necessities like dried veggies, rice and vitamins into packaging and placed them onto pallets to be shipped.
The event was organized in collaboration with global consulting firm Protiviti President and CEO Joe Tarantino, who is also an SJU alumnus, as part of the company’s “i on Hunger” initiative: a service program which provides meals to the hungry worldwide.
“Personally, I liked the idea of looking at ways of working with employers — not only in a professional setting — but collaborating to do something for a better cause,” Holton said. “Since [Protiviti] started this in 2014, they’ve already packed 3 million meals.”
The meals were sent to hungry children in Madagascar through collaboration with Stop Hunger Now: a group seeking to end hunger worldwide by providing tools to host and carry out food packaging events.
“Looking across Protiviti globally, we recognized the collective passion of our people in addressing hunger, and we are committed to making ‘i on Hunger’ a success,” Tarantino said about the company’s initiative.”Working together through food drives, meal-packing events and meal delivery efforts, we hope to bring food to those who need it most, helping to nourish hungry people and provide hope for the future.”