ORONO  — Donations and volunteers are being sought for the Maine Day Meal Packout at the University of Maine on May 1.

In food-packing events, campus and community volunteers box meals that are donated to food banks and community organizations that feed the hungry.

“The broad goal of the Maine Day Meal Packout is to raise awareness of the widespread problem of food insecurity in Maine, and to fundraise to pay for meals that get distributed to food pantries, schools and shelters around Maine,” according to student organizer Emma Hutchinson.

The event will be held 8 a.m.–1 p.m. in the Memorial Gym. It is organized by UMaine students, primarily those from the Honors College.

The students work with The Outreach Program’s New England branch to purchase meal ingredients and acquire packing materials. The average cost of a meal in Maine is $3.45, but through The Outreach Program, a nonprofit that organizes food-packaging events, a meal costs 25 cents. One package of food equals six protein-packed and nutritionally dense meals that only require boiling water, according to Hutchinson.

As of the beginning of April, the students had raised more than $15,000, but hope to raise an additional $1,000 to pack at least 65,000 meals. Donations are being accepted online at https://our.umaine.edu/s/300/13-ORONO/foundation/17crowd/interior.aspx?sid=300&gid=13&pgid=1768.

“We understand we aren’t solving hunger in Maine through these events, but we can provide some relief for those who suffer from food insecurity and raise awareness of the problem,” Hutchinson says.

Volunteers also are needed to pack meals during the event. Registration is available online at https://signupschedule.com through the Bodwell Center for Service and Volunteerism.

Last year, more than 300 volunteers helped pack 85,536 meals which cost $21,384.

In 2017, UMaine surpassed Harvard University to set a record for the most meals packed by a New England university during one event. The event also placed UMaine among the top 10 organizations in the country and fourth in New England, along with groups including AARP and United Way, for most meals packed. More than 250 volunteers helped pack 107,500 meals — about 5.5 tons of food.

For more information about the event, email Hutchinson at [email protected]

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