UM’s Annual Pack-A-Thon this Weekend

Volunteers needed to help pack 200,000 meals for needy children

During the annual Feed the Hunger Pack-a-Thon, volunteers work to package meal kits that will help feed impoverished children around the world. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi student-led Feed the Hunger campaign to provide thousands of meals for impoverished children in Kenya, Haiti, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Jamaica and rural Kentucky is once again counting upon the Oxford and Lafayette County community for support.

The eighth annual Feed the Hunger Pack-a-Thon will be held at Oxford Intermediate School gym on Martin Luther King Drive from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday (Mar. 2) and 9 to 11 a.m., noon to 2 p.m. and 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday (Mar. 3). Volunteers are asked to work two-hour shifts to pack the meal kits.

Money for the event is raised through donations from campus organizations, local businesses and churches.

“Our goal this year is to pack 200,000 meals,” said Claire Dutreix of Slidell, Louisiana, a sophomore forensic chemistry major and co-chairperson for the event. “To accomplish this, we must raise $56,000.

“While the bulk of these funds come from Ole Miss sororities and fraternities, we also rely heavily on the Oxford and Lafayette County community to help us reach our packing goals,” said Meredith Moore of Llano, Texas, a sophomore psychology major and the other co-chair.

UM was the first university in the nation to partner with the nonprofit organization in conducting pack-a-thon events, launching its event in 2010. At least six other universities have since launched Feed-the-Hunger programs.

Last year, the Ole Miss event packed 180,000 meals, putting UM just above its goal of packing 1 million meals in seven years.

“Over the years, it has been an honor to have the University of Mississippi partner with us to feed hungry children around the world,” said Melinda Staples, project manager at the organization’s headquarters in Burlington, North Carolina. “We hope that this relationship continues to grow, impacting thousands of lives everywhere.”

Four Kappa Kappa Gammas sorority members went to Kenya in January to deliver meals that were packed last spring.

“This program is extremely vital to not only impoverished countries, but to the Oxford, Lafayette, University community because it enables locals to give back without having to travel far,” said Emily Barnhouse of Dallas, Texas, a junior business marketing major and 2017 Pack-a-Thon chair. “This event is unique in that it brings the community together to make a large impact in places as far as Kenya or as near as some rural parts of Kentucky.”

Moore agreed, noting that churches, community organizations, businesses, students and volunteers all come together and give their money and time to feed hungry children by committing to a two-hour packing shift.

Pack-a-Thon meals, once boxed, will be sent to children in Kenya, Haiti, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Jamaica and rural Kentucky. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

“In just these two hours, lives are changed as the meals being packed could be the only meal a child in China, Africa, Haiti, etc. receives,” she said. “It is over the course of one weekend and with the help of 800 volunteers that we are able to make such an international impact in the Oxford community.”

Participants also are asked to bring donations for Love Packs, a local program that provides meals for Lafayette County school students who may not have meals over the weekend. Items being collected include Beenie Weenies, pop-top soup or ravioli, apple sauce and granola bars.

“We’re showing the local community how passionate we are about this and how needy these children really are,” she said. “These people really need us. That’s the message we want to get across.”

Kim Phillips, academic counselor in the UM School of Business Administration and adviser for Feed-the-Hunger, said she is hopeful that this year’s event is successful.

“Our pack-a-thons have become a training ground,” Phillips said. “Several students from other universities have come and participated with us and then gone on to launch their own pack-a-thon events.”

UM alumna Mary Katherine Perry Phillips of Oxford, who as a student helped launch the first Ole Miss pack-a-thon and has participated in every one since, said she definitely plans to participate again this weekend.

“It’s amazing,” Phillips said. “I’m so proud of how committed everyone has been to this.”

To learn more about Feed the Hunger, go to To view video from the 2012 UM Pack-a-Thon, visit