USF’s Muslim Students Association and Rise Against Hunger Combine Forces

On Tuesday, Sept. 26, the Muslim Students Association at the University of South Florida held an event in conjunction with Rise Against Hunger to package nutrient rich meals that will be distributed communities who suffer from hunger.

In 2016, there were roughly 793 million people who did not have an adequate amount of food. That is one in nine people who do not receive the sufficient amount of nutrients needed to live a healthy life. The MSA at USF is working with Rise Against Hunger, not to reduce that number, but to eradicate world hunger completely.

Rise Against Hunger is a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending world hunger by 2030 through grassroots community empowerment. They partner with communities and local organizations to raise money to sponsor meals, and then hold volunteer based events to pack them. They then distribute the nutrient packed meals to in need communities around the world. The packaged meals consist of hearty portions of soy, protein, grains, and vegetables.

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Ryan Elfallah, president of Muslim Students Association, at the Stop World Hunger event.

“I have worked with Rise Against Hunger for three years in a row, and I think they are great organization,” said Ryan Elfallah, the president of MSA at USF.

In the months leading to the event, MSA at USF raised money from the surrounding Tampa Bay community. They asked their friends and family to donate, fundraised at local mosques, and asked community members and organizations to sponsor them. Elfallah believes that Muslim involvement in a charitable cause goes hand in hand with Islamic practices.

“In our religion of Islam, one of the core principles is to give food to the poor and those who need it,” said Elfallah.

They ended up with approximately $8,800 in funds raised, enough money to fund nearly 30,000 meals with every meal priced at 29 cents.

The event consisted of stations that were tasked with a specific job. At the first station, volunteers would measure out the correct amount of food into a bag and pass it on to the second station. The second station consisted of volunteers who would weigh the meal bags and add rice if it wasn’t within a certain range. Sealers would then seal the bags and pass them on to people who packaged the meals into boxes which were given to Rise Against Hunger for distribution. Volunteers were dancing to a funky playlist throughout the event.

Attendee and junior at USF, Hajera Bano was humbled by the event.

“This event is so important because it brings people together for a good cause and also raises awareness about the severe food shortages rampant in the world today,” said Bano.

MSA at USF conducted this event last year and packed roughly 15,000 meals. Although they raised more money and were able to get double the amount of volunteers this year, only 20,000 meals were packed due to lack of time.

However, Elfallah still considers this a great success. He also compliments Rise Against Hunger for having the community that raised the money be directly involved with the process.

“Hand packing these meals is different than just raising money or donating it and not seeing…. what you’ve actually accomplished,” said Elfallah. “It makes an impact on you.”

Bano echoes that sentiment. Following all of the natural disasters in the past month, and the devastation they resulted in, Bano felt like she needed to do something productive to help people in need.

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Hajera Bano, junior at University of South Florida, weighs the meals.

“I wanted to do something, no matter how little, to counteract the negativity and help the people who don’t have even necessities,” said Bano. “This event helped me because I felt like I was doing something to directly help those who need it.”

Elfallah appreciated that the event gave people a chance to help and encourages more people to work to end world hunger.

“There are people dying from starvation while we are throwing food away,” said Elfallah. “Think about that.”

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