The University of Maine hosted its second Maine Hunger Dialogue in the Wells Conference Center on Nov. 6 and 7. The goal of the event was to mobilize the power of higher education in Maine to end hunger.
Over 150 students and staff from 17 universities and one high school across the state of Maine gathered in Wells Conference Center to pack over 10,000 non-perishable meals for food banks and pantries as well as discuss positive change in addressing the issue of hunger in Maine. In Maine, according to FeedingAmerica.org, one in six people deal with hunger.
University of Maine Fort Kent student Frantzceau Germaine was happy to have attended the event.
“It was a lot of fun, working and seeing people give time and money to help,” Germaine said. “It was wonderful.”
“The organizers come and they bring all the bulk ingredients and then we work hard to package them up. We have faculty working next to students, wearing hair nets, working towards a common cause and making a difference,” Kate Garland of the UMaine Cooperative Extension Program told WABI TV5.
Participants began on Friday morning by pitching ideas for hunger alleviation in hopes to receive one of 15 “mini grants” of $500.
There were a handful of guest speakers slated to appear at the event, including Vice President for Academic Affairs Jeffrey E. Hecker, Alex Moore from the DC Central Kitchen, Melissa Huston from the Good Shepherd Food Bank, Matthew Martin of Outreach In and Maine State Senator Justin Alfond.
While that may sound like a daunting task, the students made sure to keep it light. A group of students from Bates College in Lewiston jokingly remarked that the non-perishable macaroni and cheese they’d sampled and packaged was “better than the mac and cheese they served us for lunch.”
The event’s organizers said that the Maine Dialogue is part of a national dialogue movement to raise awareness of hunger on every higher education campus in the country.