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Waldorf ‘Stops Hunger’ for the Last Time?

Stross Newcom labels food at the 12th annual Waldorf University Stop Hunger event. Photo courtesy of Diana Humble

By: Diana Humble

Students, faculty and community members alike band together year after year to participate in Waldorf University’s Annual Stop Hunger food packaging event, but could this year be Waldorf’s last?

On Wednesday February 28, the Waldorf University Atrium was lined with tables where ten person assembly teams produced, weighed and sealed highly nutritious dehydrated meals. Each meal contained rice, soy, vegetables, and 23 essential vitamins and minerals. Junior communications major, Shannon Clark, measured food for over an hour. “My favorite part was all of the people I participated in the Stop Hunger event with. We had a good time while we packaged food and we also helped feed a lot of children in need,” Clark said.

Pøtt VanAuken, who manned the front table of the event, enjoys “seeing the enthusiasm and how eager and willing the kids are to work.” Unfortunately, VanAuken is unsure of whether the event will continue in years to come. “It’s a question mark because it’s been harder to get the funding.” In 2016, the community was able to raise around $16,000 and provide 64,000 meals. This year, despite the best efforts of Forest City’s churches, only $10,206 was raised, which allowed 40,824 meals to be packed. 40,824 units is nothing to sniff at, but in comparison to the 71,722 meals packed in 2015, there’s a noticeable decline. VanAuken chalks this up to a lack of support from Winnebago Industries and the banks of Forest City. “We used to get generous support from the bank and Winnebago, but those have gone by the wayside.” she said. Waldorf University as an institution doesn’t contribute funds to the event either.

Instead, VanAuken’s fundraising group holds a bake sale, ice cream social, serves coffee at Immanuel Lutheran Church, and holds a Breadline in December to make up the funds. Various groups on campus also work to support the cause. Each year Alpha Chi, the Honors College and Amnesty International partner to hold a bake sale during the event, with all proceeds going towards meal packing. This year they raised $139.77. Steve Smith and the members of his Honors Ethics class placed collection containers at various businesses in the community to fundraise as well.

This was Waldorf University’s 12th annual Stop Hunger event. While Stop Hunger’s future at Waldorf may be uncertain, the hundreds of thousands of meals provided over the years have had a massive effect.