by Shelby Harding
The Million Meals campaign ended on Saturday night with just over $150,000 raised, 600,000 meals packed and around 1,000 volunteers attending the meal-packing event in the Fieldhouse.
Whitworth students, faculty and staff worked alongside local non-profit Generation Alive and the Spokane community to help feed those in need.
The Million Meals campaign began fundraising after gaining ASWU approval. Large events such as the Whitworth Gala, dorm-wide coin collections, a skating night at Pattison’s, selling Christmas donation cards and other fundraising opportunities contributed to the success of the event, ASWU President Ian Robins said.
Volunteers packed meals containing rice, vegetables, soy protein and vitamins over three shifts for the event. Volunteers also set up the gym for packing and filled the trucks to distribute the meals.
“To see it all work and come together was amazing,” Robins said. “The atmosphere at the event was nothing short of awe-inspiring. Walking around and working, I saw hundreds of people giving their time and energy to serve others and the room was full of positive energy—that definitely kept me going.”
The effort on Saturday did not meet the original goal for the campaign of fundraising $250,000 to pack 1 million meals. While the goal was not met, and some questioned the possibility of meeting the goal, the positivity was not dampened during fundraising and the packing event itself, Robins said.
“I believe that Whitworth succeeded in this event, but it was never meant for us, it was for those who are struggling and how we can collectively lift them up,” Robins said. “Whitworth responded to the needs of our neighbors and of the world.”
Other students believed that the Million Meals campaign was a success as well.
“It definitely was a success and a lot of people had fun — it raised a lot of awareness too,” sophomore Katie McKinney said.
The first shift of the day had the most volunteers that helped set up the gym and began packing. The morning shift was the most daunting, but the energy picked up as the day continued, Arend senator Emily Witthuhn said.
“The morning felt more like a monotonous job and because completion was so far away, it was less energetic,” Witthuhn said. “The second shift was the most energetic of the day for me. It was awesome to see that with fewer people, we could be almost as productive as the first shift.”
Students hope that the campaign would increase the desire to serve across the Whitworth campus as well as raise awareness of issues like hunger.
“I hope that this can impact Whitworth and Spokane to strive to do even greater things,” Witthuhn said. “The attitude of service is one that is easily lost in our generation, so to have served in the way we did on May 3 is something that will hopefully prompt an attitude of service for the future.”
There is a possibility that the Million Meals campaign will be repeated in the future, Robins said.
“I definitely wouldn’t write it off,” Robins said. “I saw so many people get excited over the opportunity to come together and do something with meaning and a broad impact.”
The meals will be distributed by Second Harvest of the Inland Northwest and sent to Nicaragua.
Contact Shelby Harding at firstname.lastname@example.org