So, this past weekend, I did something pretty cool. I helped to break the Guinness World Record for the most hunger relief kits assembled simultaneously. Thanks to Valley of the Sun United Way (VSUW) and Arizona State University, I was one of nearly 2,000 people who assembled 1,993 WeekEND Hunger Backpacks in three minutes, smashing the previous record achieved by a school in Canada of 1,000 hunger relief kits packed.
I’d never actually assembled a WeekEND Hunger Backpack, but I’ve heard a lot about the program through my work with VSUW. In the Valley of the Sun (fancy name for most of Arizona), there are approximately 82,000 families struggling with chronic hunger. Think about that number. 82,000 households who may not know where their next meal is coming from.
Even more alarming, within the Phoenix schools that VSUW partners with, around 80% of the kids depend on school-supplied meals.
And this is where the WeekEND Hunger Backpacks come into play. The packs help chronically hungry youth get the nutrition they need over the weekend—a time when they can’t depend on school-supplied breakfasts and lunches.
During our official welcome to the World Record to End Hunger event, VSUW reported that they distribute more than 2,000 WeekEND Hunger Backpacks each month to hungry kids at eight Valley schools.
That fact hit me hard, because it put into perspective what a pervasive issue hunger is in Arizona, especially for our youth.
Yes, this world record attempt would quickly replenish VSUW’s supply of WeekEND Hunger Backpacks, but our end result would only help keep kids healthy and satiated for a single month at best (they only had room for 2,016 volunteers to participate). And that’s only the 50-some odd kids at each of the eight schools with which VSUW partners.
To further drive the point home, audio recordings of some of the kids who receive the WeekEND Hunger Backpacks were played for us. You’d think these kids were talking about a new LEGO set or a state-of-the-art Barbie mansion because of the thankfulness and excitement in their voices. But they weren’t. They were talking about how happy they were to have food, a basic survival need.
I knew then that this was about way more than setting a new world record. This was about smashing hunger in a symbolic and community-driven way. And I was pretty damn proud to be in that crowd of volunteers.
A few moments later, Philip Robertson, Guinness World Record adjudicator, explained the official rules for the attempt, and then it was time to assemble the packs!
As each volunteer was only responsible for packing one WeekEND Hunger Backpack, my table was finished in 30 seconds flat, and I inwardly wished we had more packs to assemble. Can you imagine if we all were creating as many packs as we could in a three-minute sprint?
As soon as the shotgun sounded at the end of three minutes signaling the end of the attempt, everyone on the field cheered. We knew we’d done it!
Official stewards, who were responsible for checking the work at each table, filed up to the stage at the front of the field and reported out their tables’ numbers.
The World Record to End Hunger event was truly inspiring and such a worthwhile volunteer opportunity!
But if it taught me anything it’s that our work fighting hunger is far from done. There are kids out there who have no idea where their next meal is coming from. And we can help.
Learn about VSUW’s WeekEND Hunger Backpack program. Volunteer to pack WeekEND Hunger Backpacks or deliver them to Valley schools. Become an End Hunger team member to advocate and take action to end hunger in the Valley. Donate to the WeekEND Hunger Backpack program. $20 alone (maybe four morning coffees – if you like ’em fancy!) will feed a chronically hungry child over the weekend for a month; $200 will take care of a child for a school year (40 weeks).
Because how cool would it be if the Guinness World Record for the most hunger relief kits assembled simultaneously didn’t exist—because there was no need for it?