Success Stories: Illini Fighting Hunger

Illini Fighting Hunger is a student organization that facilitates food packaging projects in Champaign-Urbana and throughout the state of Illinois. Food packaging projects are events in which volunteers gather to package dry food product into bags which are heat-sealed and distributed to individuals and families in need through food banks and food pantries. The majority of this food is distributed in the state of Illinois.

In general, we facilitate two types of projects: Casserole packaging projects are projects in which volunteers assemble a casserole containing four ingredients: long-grain white rice, textured soy protein, a dehydrated vegetable blend, and a fortified vegetarian flavoring mix. These casseroles are assembled in packages containing six servings each and are typically donated to the Eastern Illinois Foodbank or other food banks in the state. We have also donated assembled casserole packages to the relief effort following the tornados in Washington, IL last fall and, on rare occasions, have had the meals distributed internationally for hunger relief efforts.

Single-ingredient packaging projects are projects in which volunteers re-package long-grain white rice, pinto beans, or pasta from bulk into 1-pound and 3-pound packages for distribution though the Wesley Evening Food Pantry. The Wesley Pantry serves 1,000-2,000 individuals monthly through a single distribution on the third Thursday of the month. This includes hundreds of young children on a monthly basis. Through our standing collaboration with the Wesley Pantry, we aim to supply at least 3,000 lbs of rice and 2,000 lbs of pinto beans every month.

About Illini Fighting Hunger Since we launched Illini Fighting Hunger on April 21, 2012, our projects have produced 362,7373 pounds of food through more than 12,500 volunteers contributing a total of 22,463 hours of service. This includes:

  • 95,457 lbs of rice
  • 28,100 lbs of pinto beans
  • 2,930 lbs of pasta
  • 1,574,217 servings of casserole

Illini Fighting Hunger maintains a vast inventory of reusable equipment for meal packaging projects that has been acquired through donations from a variety of partners and Student Organization Resource Fee (SORF) funds. The food product and consumables for every project, however, are always funded by a collaborating organization. Typically our collaborators are student organizations, religious organizations, schools, Rotary clubs, or campus units who are interested in putting together a project in which their members will participate together. These organizations will both raise funds for the project and also recruit the volunteers from within their organization to participate in the project. In this way, our public service is not only to the broader community through producing food to address food insecurity, but also to these collaborating groups for whom we provide a fun, customized, mobile volunteer experience for members of their organization. Because of our expert student leaders, we make hosting a food packaging project extremely simple and extremely accessible.