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From Hunger Lunch to Nourish International

By Jasmina Nogo
Staff Writer

What began as a weekly $3 lunch of beans and rice on UNC’s campus in 2003 became a national student-run nonprofit organization that seeks to eradicate world poverty. Sindura Citineni, a 2004 UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School graduate, started the student group Hunger Lunch and used profits from the meals to fund a nutrition project in Hyderabad, India.

“When she was graduating, she started thinking about what Hunger Lunch would look like as a nonprofit,” said James Dillard, executive director of Nourish International.

In 2005, Hunger Lunch entered the Carolina Challenge, a business-plan competition. They placed second in the contest and decided to expand to other campuses under the new name, Nourish International.

In 2006, Nourish incorporated as a 501(c)3 nonprofit and the expansion began. Since then, Nourish has added to 23 universities across the country. This year, the movement set an ambitious goal of expanding to 10 new chapters to increase the national impact of Nourish.

“Our 20 or so chapters this year are going to run development projects in nine different countries,” Dillard said.

Nourish recruits students to organize chapters at their universities that raise money during the school year to fund selected sustainable-development projects. Students travel abroad over the summer and work alongside members of the community to implement the projects.

“Our students run small businesses, like Hunger Lunch, which help raise awareness, but also money to implement various projects,” Dillard said.
Hunger Lunch is the most successful example of an ongoing Nourish venture. On Wednesday afternoons, chapter members serve lunch in the Pit, charging $4 for a plateful of rice, beans and cornbread. All profits go toward poverty eradication.

“Through this process, we have some really great and verifiable work that we can do,” Dillard said.

One of last year’s projects, conducted by the Emory University chapter of Nourish, partnered with an organization called African Sky in Mali. The mission of the project is to help fund tailors to make hospital scrubs from organic cotton.

“There’s a strong demand for this. It’s also a finished product that these tailors and farmers can sell directly to the market. It provides a significantly higher return for them,” Dillard said.

The Mali project will promote the sale of refined products and will provide farmers and tailors with a direct income and fair wages. This is just one example of many Nourish projects.

“The whole process outside of my office is completely student run. They’ll raise the money themselves and they’ll travel abroad and fund it completely themselves,” Dillard said.

On April 17, students from the N.C. State, Duke and UNC chapters of Nourish will host a fundraising event in Raleigh called “Brew Local, Act Global.” The beer tasting will feature local brews from Lonerider Beer, the Asheville Brewing Company, Natty Greene, Aviator Brewery and Ham’s Brewhouse.

“We really do feel like global issues are some of the most important that our country is facing today. You can see that in the global financial crisis, global warming,” Dillard said. The fundraising event hopes to increase international awareness through a community event.

“One of the things we think is interesting about Nourish is that we combine local work with global work really interestingly,” Dillard said. “We want to combine the local with the global.”

In order to propel this year’s ambitious goal of 10 new chapters, the organization needs to raise more money.

“The money that we raise with the beer tasting is going to help us continue supporting our chapters and helping to expand them in that work that they’re doing,” Dillard said.

“Not only are we doing some really awesome development work, but we’re preparing students for a lifetime of community work and global citizenship.”
“Brew Local, Act Global” will be held at the Mosaic Wine Lounge, 517 W. Jones St. in Raleigh from 6 to 8 p.m. The cost is $30 for one and $50 for couples. Food will be provided by the 518 West Italian Café.

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