The Bodwell Center for Service and Volunteerism, in partnership with the University of Maine Honors College, UMaine Multicultural Student Life and UMA Bangor hosted the “MLK Jr. Day of Service Meal Pack Out” Saturday morning. Together, volunteers of all ages were able to pack more than 23,000 meals for food pantries in the greater Bangor area.
“We are very excited about our multi-campus collaboration,” Lisa Morin, the coordinator for the Bodwell Center, said. Morin added that she would like to partner with even more campuses and organizations for future meal packing events.
Volunteers came from across the state to help pack meals. Many volunteers were students, while others were senior citizens. The Knights of Columbus donated the use of their facilities and a few of their members volunteered as well. Several members of the Maine State Legislature were also present, including Sen Gratwick, Rep. Dunfee and Rep. Dill.
As the boxes of meals piled higher, UMaine students, alumni and community members built a connection through service.
“It’s really neat to see everyone working here, side by side,” Morin said. “I love to see multi-generational events.”
The original goal was to pack 20,000 meals. Thanks to donations, they were able to exceed their goal by more than 3,000 meals and set the standard for other meal packing events in the area.
“I want to make this the biggest meal packing event in the state of Maine,” Morin said.
The Bodwell Center has worked to engage the UMaine campus through service and volunteerism since 2005. The meal packing event was held in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, a designated day of service nationwide.
Thanks to sponsorships from the Corporation for National and Community Service and Iowa Campus Compact, the Bodwell Center was able to host the event through the support of End Hunger NE, an Outreach Inc. nonprofit organization.
According to Martin, one out of six people in Maine are struggling with hunger.
“The meals we pack today will go directly to families in this area,” Matthew Martin, the Regional Manager of Outreach Inc., said. “These are nutritious meals that only require hot water to prepare — 25 cents can feed a kid, and a dollar can feed a family of four.”