UCF Community to Attack Hunger

Oct. 28, 2013

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By Jenna Marina

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ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) – Don Campbell’s passion for food grew out of both necessity and love.  

As a 10-year-old, the future founder of the non-profit organization Feeding Children Everywhere had endured more heartache and tragedy than some experience in a lifetime.

Campbell’s father committed suicide. His two younger brothers passed away. His mother withdrew emotionally. With three younger sisters to feed and take care of, the boy became the family’s primary caretaker.

Cooking, in effect, became his therapy.

“I was able to be really creative, and that led me to always love food and entertaining around cooking,” said Campbell, who boasts that he can make 10 different grilled cheese sandwiches. “I believe so many healthy relationships happen around the table. For me, I needed to get around the table with my siblings and my mom when we could or uncles that would step in, and then eventually a stepfather. The family table ended up providing a foundation.

“It’s one of the things that aren’t common in our nation anymore,” Campbell continued. “Part of the problem is we’re a busy nation and there are some families that don’t have the food to do it. So that’s what we do now – we provide a relational organization that can help provide and set the table for people in our country and around the world.”

Campbell and his Feeding Children Everywhere crew – with the help of UCF’s student government, UCF Athletics and UCF Fraternity & Sorority Life – will be taking over the Venue at UCF on Nov. 16 in a “Pack to Attack Hunger” initiative.

This marks the second year of UCF’s involvement, though the undertaking has grown considerably from 2012. UCF fraternities and sororities were solely responsible for a 50,000-meal initiative last year.

Now, they are partnering with student government and athletics and are reaching out to the surrounding community for a one-million meal/ $250,000 fundraising effort – the largest ever attempted on a college campus.

“Since we’re the second largest university in the nation, I think it’s really important for us to be out there in all aspects, and I think community service is a big thing on this campus,” UCF SGA president Melissa Westbrook said. “We never talk about the food security aspect of community service here on campus, so it brings a new perspective and I think it’s something that we should continue. Personally, I am very passionate about food security and global poverty.”

Assembly lines of volunteers —which will include Campbell’s daughter Madison, a UCF student, as well as the rest of his family – will pack up the nutrient-rich lentil-based boxed meals that Feeding Children Everywhere is known for. The boxed meals, which cost about 25 cents each, will then be dispersed to children in Orange and Seminole counties.

“It’s really this engaging, fun, high-energy, competitive, efficient environment,” Campbell said. “College students get the most competitive and they’ve got a lot of energy. They can package as high as 3,000 or 4,000 meals per assembly line per hour. You can see how this over-a-million meal project can be accomplished in such a short period of time. We wouldn’t be able to accomplish it without the UCF students working with us. We want to see the community embrace this. If we had 10,000 people donate 25 dollars, that’s enough to package and assemble 1 million meals.”

Katie Clinger, the Fraternity & Sorority Life philanthropy chair, helped coordinate and participated in last year’s fund-raising event. She understands that this year’s goal is a lofty one, but she’s confident that through UCF’s resources and teamwork, they can positively impact the local community.

“To bring everyone out here and rally behind one cause is monumental,” she said. “We were all children and a lot of us never really had the problem of wondering where dinner was going to come from. I think realizing that it is a problem, especially right here where we all live and go to school each and every day, it hits home for us.”

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