Carolina alumnus Rod Brooks believes that we can end hunger in our lifetime.
He’s making headway on the problem as president and CEO of Stop Hunger Now, an international hunger relief organization based in Raleigh. The nonprofit coordinates the distribution of food and other lifesaving aid to people around the world.
In 2005, shortly before Brooks joined the organization, Stop Hunger Now introduced a meal-packaging program that provides meal distribution to 40 countries, primarily through schools. Volunteers in 18 states package the meals, which consist of small bags of rice, dehydrated vegetables, soy and vitamins. One bag of food can feed six people at a cost of 25 cents per meal, $1.50 per bag.
More than 300,000 volunteers in faith-based and civic organizations, corporations and universities — even Miss USA pageant contestants — have packaged more than a hundred million meals to feed the hungry since the meal-packaging program began. The meal packing events are upbeat and fun and people cheer when the striking of a gong marks the completion of 1,000 meals.
UNC’s incoming first-year students participate in the program during summer orientation. A Campus Y organization called Carolina Hunger Education and Activism Project (C.H.E.A.P.) works with Stop Hunger Now throughout the year.
“People 4 years old to 94 years old can participate, so there’s something for all ages to do,” Brooks says. “We hope that this is not the last step they’ll take in helping to end hunger. So we talk about what else they can do.”
Brooks, who studied economics and Spanish at Carolina and graduated in 1989, says he can trace his entire career to his study abroad experience at UNC. He lived and studied in Seville, Spain, during his junior year.
“During that year, I gained a different perspective on the world, and how, in spite of cultural differences, deep down inside we have the same goals and aspirations,” he says. “That experience created in me an interest in serving people around the world.”
Published November 15, 2013.