The Maine Day Meal Pack-Out is becoming a staple part of volunteering on Maine Day. The Honors College Student Advisory Board has been planning and fundraising for the event, which works to bring thousands of meals to people all over the state, annually for the past three years.
In its first year, Meal Pack-Out organizers assembled over 100,000 meals which beat out Harvard University in the most meals packed in a single event by a United States university.
The meal packing goal for this year is 65,000 meals, which corresponds to $16,250.
Emma Hutchinson, a fourth-year English student, has been involved with the event at every level during her time on the Student Advisory Board. She started as a volunteer in her sophomore year, then became a team leader the next and this year has been put in charge of coordinating.
All the planning is “very logistics heavy,” according to Hutchinson. Her duties include visiting with local organizations, attending town rotary meetings, meeting with members of the administration and getting pledges from both the alumni association and the University of Maine Foundation in order to get funds to get the meals.
This year even included a bar crawl that raised over $500 for the Pack-Out.
“We start thinking about it in the fall semester with planning how many meals we wanted to pack and where we wanted it to be,” explained Hutchinson.
The event is not only exclusive to UMaine but also includes participants from the surrounding community.
“We have people from off campus coming in, last year we had teams from high schools coming in to help pack the meals with us so we really try to advertise and let people know about it,” Hutchinson said.
The planning team is composed of about twelve students from each class in the Honors College as well as faculty in the College.
Dominique DiSpirito, a first-year political science student, is among those twelve and has been working with the planning for the pack-out since the beginning of the year. This year, she is working as the food bank liaison. Her responsibility is to contact food banks and distribute the meals once they are packed.
“From the very beginning, this event won my heart over,” DiSpirito said. “I have never been a part of a group as passionate and dedicated as the committee for this event. Every single member has been pouring their time and effort into this event for months, spending hours on end to get all the pieces together. The results thus far have been immensely rewarding, as we can see the results of all our hard work and how it is benefiting thousands of people in need across the state.”
Another key member of the planning process is President of the Student Advisory Board Lauren Ryan. In the planning, she works as the director of volunteer recruitment and management.
“We have a really wonderful group of Honors students on the committee this year, and everyone is excited to make the MDMP happen, and are always willing to put in 110 percent with whatever we need to accomplish, which has been amazing to see. We’ve raised over $17,000 and expect to have nearly 300 people participate in this year’s event, and I am so excited to see all of our months of hard work finally culminate on Maine Day,” Ryan said.
As of Thursday, there were only ten spots that needed to be filled but there is always the opportunity to pop in and volunteer your time. The pack-out this year will be held in the Memorial Gym and starts at 9 a.m. on Maine Day, May 1.