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Student group uses ‘hunger lunches’ to raise money for Latin American communities

An Ohio State student group is working to go to Latin America to help communities get development projects off the ground.

OSU’s chapter of Nourish International has a goal of seeing more involvement from the student body, said Theresa Schmidt, a second-year in anthropology and human resources director of the chapter.

In addition to hosting “hunger lunches” on the Oval, where students have gotten pizza and sandwiches, Nourish International will host a backyard football tournament from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 21 at the Lincoln Tower Turf Field.

The top two teams of five players each will win prizes donated by Raising Cane’s. The first-place team will receive $105 worth of Raising Cane’s food — 15 $7 vouchers for box meals. The second-place team will receive $35 worth of Raising Cane’s food — five $7 vouchers for box meals. Proceeds will benefit Nourish International’s sustainability project in a Latin American country next summer.

Nourish International is a non-profit, student-run organization focused on changing the effects of poverty around the world and putting fundraising money toward sustainable development projects. With this money, the group provides raw materials, such as bricks and tools, to give communities a starting point from which to continue, said Raquel Hernandez, a second-year in marketing with a minor in Spanish and marketing director of the OSU chapter.

The money collected throughout the school year does not go toward students’ personal expenses.

The OSU Nourish International chapter was founded in 2008. Nicholas Mata, a third-year in zoology and pre-med, is the current president.

After his experience traveling to Cerro Blanco, Peru, this summer with the group, Mata said, “It is an eye-opening experience traveling to where there is poverty. It changes your outlook on life. You don’t think about the poor as people until you meet them individually.”

During the six-week volunteer trip to Cerro Blanco, Schmidt and Mata worked with four other OSU students, 12 University of North Carolina chapter members and members of Nourish’s partner, the non-profit organization Mobilizing Opportunity Through Community Heritage Empowerment. Together, they helped build a clean water reservoir so that about 120 families — approximately 500 people — could have 24-hour access to clean water, Mata said.

“Everyone in the village put in a certain amount of hours or put in certain amount of money,” Schmidt said.

She was impressed by how happy the people were.

To help pay for the trips, OSU’s chapter hosts bi-weekly “hunger lunches.”

Stationed in the South Oval during Fall and Spring quarters, lunches are donated by local businesses. The past two “hunger lunches” had food from Formaggio Pizza, which donated more than 10 pizzas, and Champps Americana, which donated sandwiches, Schmidt said.

Students that stop by can take the free food, but in return, Nourish International members encourage donations. The next lunch will be today from noon to 2:30 p.m.

Last Winter Quarter, the organization hosted the Nourish Olympics, where students could enter a basketball tournament in the RPAC and show their enthusiasm for a country by dressing in the colors of a nation.

This year, ideas for events in Winter and Spring quarters involve the Nourish Olympics again, a Euchre tournament, and selling grilled cheese sandwiches off a member’s porch on Summit Street.

For the sustainable project last year, about $4,000 went toward the fund. This year, each quarterly venture is predicted to make one-third of the budget.

For the Nov. 21 backyard football tournament, teams of five players will be able to register at the RPAC, through Facebook, or by sending their contact information to NIfootball2010@hotmail.com. Each player must pay a $5 registration fee to participate. The tournament is open to everyone, not just students. 

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