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Campus & Community

What It Takes: Terps Against Hunger

3 Million Meals. Hundreds of Volunteers. One Giant Truck. A UMD Student Group Has a Recipe for Fighting D.C.-Area Food Insecurity.

By Karen Shih ’09

students package food at Terps Against Hunger event

Students package thousands of nonperishable meals for Terps Against Hunger at Ritchie Coliseum in 2019. The organization has donated more than 3 million meals to the Capital Area Food Bank through dozens of volunteer-driven events on campus over the last 10 years.

Photo by Emma Howells

For as long as Beverly Bolster ’25 can remember, she’s helped her mom chop veggies, crack eggs and carefully spread aluminum foil over casserole dishes. But the belly-warming meals that resulted weren’t for her own family—they were donated though the Bolsters’ church to Our Daily Bread, a nonprofit in Baltimore.

So it was only natural that when she got to the University of Maryland’s First Look Fair as a freshman that she was drawn to Terps Against Hunger, a student organization founded in 2013 to combat food insecurity in and around Washington, D.C. Nearly one in two families in Prince George’s County can’t afford to regularly buy food or lack easy access to grocery stores and nutritious food.

The group has donated more than 3 million meals to the Capital Area Food Bank through dozens of volunteer-driven food packing events on campus. Throughout the year, it also hosts more traditional food drives for the Campus Pantry and volunteers with other food banks.

“It’s really exciting to see what we’ve been able to accomplish when everyone comes together,” said Bolster, co-vice president of finance for Terps Against Hunger. “We’re not just students—we’re part of this community. We want to give back.”

As Terps Against Hunger prepares to package 50,000 meals during Maryland Day, Bolster explains why the group makes meals out of dry ingredients, why it needs a massive moving truck and how little challenges keep volunteers pumped up throughout the day.

What goes into the meals:
“We prepare dried food because it’s healthier, allergy- and food restriction-safe, and helps meet our nutritional goals. Each 13.9-ounce bag has six servings and can feed a family. It’s meatless, dairy-free and gluten-free, so we can maximize the number of people who can take advantage.

For the Maryland Day event, we’ve ordered 96 bags of rice, 41 bags of soy protein, nine boxes of vitamins and minerals, and nine boxes of dried vegetables: 2,620 pounds total.”

Who participates:
“A majority of our volunteers are students, and many social or service organizations will sign up together. Through our partners and sponsors, we get others. For example, we’ve worked with the Do Good Institute, the Alumni Association and the Office of Community Engagement for Good Neighbor Day, which brought a lot of local community members to help.

We release our sign-up link a couple weeks before the event, and the time slots fill up pretty fast. We had about 200 volunteers at Homecoming and plan to have more this time.”

Ordering, storing and prepping:
“As soon as the semester starts, we reserve the space, request funding from the student organization office and reach out to other sponsors.

Our biggest challenge is where to store our materials. We used to have a big warehouse space at UMD, but that building has been torn down, so we had to pay for public storage for a while, which was not sustainable. Fortunately, one of our former presidents now has a warehouse and we can use a small corner. We own a manual pallet jack and rent a 26-foot truck each time we need to transport all the food to campus. Sometimes it’s tight, but we’ve always made it.

The night before the event, we move everything in, including the tables for assembly lines, all of the food, bins and boxes, and more. We pour the food into plastic-lined bins for easy scooping and figure out how we’re connecting the heat sealers to power so we can seal the bags.”

A full-day packing frenzy:
“Our Maryland Day event will run all day. Most volunteers sign up for one-hour shifts. At the start of each one, our event managers explain the assembly line process and another member will do a brief presentation on food insecurity in the D.C. area. Then, the volunteers get started, with one person handling each ingredient that’s being added to the bag.

We do fun little competitions throughout the day to keep it interesting, like seeing which group can fill a box the fastest and most accurately (we have scales to weigh each bag).”

Why it feels good to “Do Good”:
“It’s exhausting—exec board members are running around all day—but so rewarding to see the final meal count and to see the stacks and stacks of boxes we’ve produced as we load it back on the truck. We take all of it to the warehouse, where the food bank will come pick it up.

It’s nice to feel like we’re having an impact. We hope this inspires more people to get involved with service to the local community.”

This is part of a series that looks behind the scenes at “what it takes” to keep the University of Maryland humming and create a vibrant campus experience. Got an idea for a future installment? Email

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