Rutgers Pakistani Student Association hosts drive to address food insecurity
As of 2012, 1,151,890 New Jerseyans live in food-insecure homes, according to Rutgers Against Hunger.
Under the Muslims Against Hunger project, Zamir Hassan, a volunteer, started the Hunger Van and sought to alleviate that hunger in the Garden State.
“Meals for Hope,” hosted by the Pakistani Student Association (PSA), attracted more than 60 volunteers to the International Lounge of the Busch Student Center on Monday night to create the meals. The Alpha Phi Omega (APO) fraternity and Omega Phi Alpha (OPA) sorority brought craft supplies for volunteers to create cards to accompany the meals.
PSA, with the help of the greek organizations, brought Hassan and his Hunger Van to Rutgers, and will later distribute the packed meals to homeless residents in Newark.
The organization wanted to highlight the charitable side of Pakistani culture as opposed to the extravagance of cultural celebrations and performances, said Salah Shaik, community chair of PSA and a School of Arts and Sciences senior.
To start the night of service, Shaik announced the intentions of the event and thanked the volunteers for their time before introducing the group to Hassan, the founder and president of the Hunger Van.
Hassan’s quiet demeanor did not prevent his message from being heard. He questioned the crowd, asking what hunger meant. After some prodding, tentative hands offered their interpretations before he revealed his definition.
“Hunger is not knowing where your next meal will come from,” Hassan said.
Hassan then reminded the volunteers of their fortunes in life before directing the group to pack meals for the less fortunate.
The students were divided into three groups where they worked on making peanut butter and honey sandwiches, bags of sunflower seeds and dried fruit, along with bananas and cookies. At a separate table, volunteers made cards and crafts.
For students who could not attend, the PSA is accepting donations at gofundme.com/PSAMealsofHope2016. All proceeds will be given to the Muslims Against Hunger project.
Marielle Sumergido is an Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy senior majoring in public health. She is a former editor-in-chief of The Daily Targum.