The Skip-a-meal initiative is a 38-year long program that provides a good and healthy meal to those who need it most in the Atchison community. This is most often to poor elderly, disabled, or houses with children.
Jack Niederee, President of the Hunger Coalition, recalls a specific moment that moved him while giving meals to the community. A father of four stopped him to tell him how thankful he was for the meals. He was working overtime shifts to help pay for the engine fix for the family minivan that had broken down.
“He said not only did the meals help him save for that, but also it brought his kids joy, because they were excited when the volunteers delivered the sacks,” Niedere said.
The initiative originally started back in the early 80’s to raise money for a mission trip. The Raven community quickly realized that this semester long program could be used to benefit the Atchison community in a greater way. Today over 250 students are giving their meals to others.
Alainna Kezele is a Senior at Benedictine College and has been participating in the program for the past four years. She continues to commit to this sacrifice because of the good it brings to those less fortunate.
“I encourage other students to join this program because it builds the Benedictine community as well as the Atchison community,” Kezele said.
The Hunger Coalition does more than just ask for people to give up their Wednesday meals. They also package and deliver the meals every week. As well as this they have a huge role in social justice week in the spring semester.
Hunger Co works with Uplift KC, which is an independently funded homeless ministry organization in Kansas City. They occasionally send volunteers to help.
This program is more than just giving up one meal a week. Volunteers including students, staff, and faculty assemble and deliver sack lunches on Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings. The faculty and staff continue their duties when the student body is away from campus. This program also involves working with Aramark, who supports their initiative.
Senior Allison Engelbert spoke about her eye-opening experience while delivering meals.
“You live in a bubble on campus, but when I went to deliver these meals, I realized how many of the community members are living below the poverty line,” Engelbert said.
If you are looking for a way to give back to the community, join the Hunger Coalition. They do the meal packing on Fridays from 3-4 p.m. in the cafeteria, and on Saturdays they send out volunteers on routes to different families beginning at 9:30 a.m.
“The experience is humbling. When I go, I am reminded of how we are all Gods people. I encourage everyone to take time to deliver meals,” Engelbert said.