By Christina Armeni

Sporting red hair nets and oversized plastic gloves, student volunteers from a variety of faiths and backgrounds spent their evening on Tuesday, September 24 scooping rice and soy protein inside the Memorial Chapel. 19,440 meals were packed, sealed and sent to families in the DMV area for the annual “Feed the Families” event at the University of Maryland.

Stations were set up to make the process as efficient as possible. Students measured out rice, soy protein and dried veggies, and in just two hours, they were able to exceed the goal amount of 12,000 packed meals. 

“Food insecurity is such a major issue in the DMV area,” said chapel coordinator Denise McHugh. 

This was the fifth year of the “Feed the Families” event. Each year, the chapel has partnered with the student organization Terps Against Hunger. 

Before the packaging began, a panel consisting of three students from different faiths was held to provide a discussion of service. 

“There are so many people out there who aren’t as fortunate as many of us are, and even though we may never meet them, it’s satisfying to know the food we package can leave a lasting impact on someone else’s life,” said Adnan Zaber, a senior computer engineering major. 

Zaber, a member of the campus Muslim Students Association, was one of the students on the panel. A student from the Catholic Student Center was also on the panel, as well as a student from the Maryland Hillel.

Each meal costs about 6 cents to make, according to Terps Against Hunger member Dominic Colarusso. 

The meals are low cost but provide a lot of nutrients. “The idea is that you can spice it up in a pot later when you cook it,” said Colarusso, a sophomore Astronomy and Physics double major. 

“The idea of service really does bind people,” McHugh said, adding that she has found students really enjoy the “interfaith event.”  

Once the meals were packed, they were taken to the Capital Area Food Bank in D.C., said Mel Coles, the event sales and office assistant for the chapel. 

Coles graduated from the University of Maryland in 2016, and is now a second-year grad student. She has worked at the chapel since 2014.

“We are all human. We all need food,” Coles said. “We all need nutrition and if there’s a way for us to provide that in a small way, I’ll feel better.”

Featured Photo Credit: Christina Armeni/Bloc Reporter.

Christina Armeni is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at

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