Benedictine Hunger Coalition Honored by Atchison Chamber

Published: Friday, February 1, 2013

More than 400 Benedictine College students skip their Wednesday dinner each week, donating the funds from their meal plans to the college’s Hunger Coalition. That money then goes to purchase food, which the students, faculty and staff involved with the group make into lunches and deliver every Saturday to the needy of Atchison.  Students do the bulk of the work, but faculty and staff of the college carry the load during breaks and over the summer so a Saturday delivery is never missed.  This year, that team was recognized by the Atchison Area Chamber of Commerce as the 2012 Team of the Year.  The award annually recognizes a group that has made a positive difference in the Atchison community.

“It was a very special surprise to me for the Atchison Chamber to award the Hunger Coalition Team of the Year,” said Amanda Wert, a Benedictine College senior and the president of the Hunger Coalition.  “It is always humbling to receive the gratitude of the individuals we serve each week and it was especially beautiful to be told we positively impact the community as a whole.”

According to Dr. Richard Coronado, chair of the Department of Economics at BC and longtime Hunger Coalition advisor, the move to create the Hunger Coalition started at Benedictine College in 1984 after an event called “World Hunger Day” and follow-up discussions among students on the World Hunger Committee.

“I remember Tim Mullane, ’87, was determined to take action,” said Coronado.  “He kept saying, ‘We can’t just talk, we have to do something.’”

“Students had tried a skip-a-meal program, just once a semester, to raise money to send to Mother Teresa’s mission,” recalled Father Meinrad Miller, OSB, ’89, who was just a freshman in 1984 when the group began.  It was decided to move forward with a plan to do a weekly skip-a-meal and then feed the hungry of Atchison. 

“It was pretty small at first,” said Fr. Meinrad.  “It seems like it was only about 20 people skipping.  But it was a start and it involved us going weekly to see the people of Atchison.  I was a helper and Dave Armstrong and I were part of the group that first made deliveries.”

According to Coronado, the group started off with around 16 skipping dinner.  That number went up to 40, and then 60, and then 85.  They got names of shut-ins, needy families, and others from local service agencies and churches and delivered for about eight weeks at first.

“By the end of the fifth or sixth year, we had 100 students skipping,” Coronado said.  Increasing enrollment meant that the Hunger Coalition could help more people.  For the past few years, the number of students skipping a meal has been over 400.

“Lookng back, I think one of the greatest things about the Hunger Coalition is that connection between the students and the people of Atchison,” Fr. Meinrad said.

“I've been happy to call Atchison my home for the past four years and the Hunger Coalition has been a very positive way for me to feel like I am a part of the community here,” Wert said.  “This award has cemented this feeling for me by recognizing the Hunger Coalition as an important member of the Atchison community.”

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas.  The school is proud to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report as well as one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide.  It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging.  It has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.