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Student starts WWFF chapter

Alicia Smith | Tuesday, November 2, 2010

In order to provide international relief for malnutrition while offering a local twist, Saint Mary’s junior Meredith Rizzo opened a College chapter of the Will Work For Food (WWFF) organization.

According to Rizzo, the organization, which was co-founded by Steven Weinberg and Josh Cohen of the University of Michigan in 2007, is a student-run non-profit which aims to fight malnutrition overseas by volunteering in the local community.

“It is an organization that combines local community service with international relief,” she said. “So it kind of comes from the idea of a Dance Marathon or a Relay For Life where people get sponsors for, in that case, dancing or walking around, but we want to make the impact twice as big and so we do local volunteer hours out in the community and then find sponsors for that work.”

The money raised from sponsorship is donated to Doctors Without Borders to buy nutritional supplements for malnourished children, Rizzo said.

“It’s specifically this supplement called Plumpy’nut, and it’s kind of like a peanut butter type of material that has all these supplements in it,” she said.

Since 2007, Rizzo said WWFF has raised more than $50,000 to assist malnutrition.

In addition, the organization has been sanctioned by the Clinton Global Initiatives for Universities in 2008 and 2009 and was an International Semi-Finalist in the 2009 Dell Social Innovation Competition.

The slogan for the campaign, Rizzo said, is “volunteering locally to make a difference globally.”

Rizzo said she wanted to open a Saint Mary’s chapter in order to draw awareness to the issue of malnutrition while still assisting the local community.

“Child malnutrition has been nicknamed the silent killer because a lot of people are unaware of it and it’s overshadowed by other crises,” she said. “I think this is a great way to take the things that girls are already doing in our community to make that impact a global impact.”

According to Rizzo, each month the Saint Mary’s chapter will hold a work effort. Each work effort will allow members of the College community to collectively volunteer.

“I’m the chapter representative for the Saint Mary’s community, and anybody is welcome to be involved,” she said.

Rizzo said the first work effort will be held Nov. 7.

According to Rizzo the November project will allow students to go door to door to collect canned goods for an area food pantry.

Additionally, Rizzo said plans are underway for a variety of other work efforts including making cards for soldiers and helping at a local animal shelter.

WWFF has a goal of collecting $4,000 this academic year, and Rizzo believes that the chapter has the capability to achieve it.

“The headquarters team at the University of Michigan set us a goal of $4,000 for the year, which is the same goal set for every other university, for Michigan State, for Ohio State, for everywhere,” she said. “I think we’re completely capable of it. I realize we’re a much smaller school, but I kind of like the challenge and I think we can do it.

According to Rizzo, students from Saint Mary’s College, the University of Notre Dame and Holy Cross College, as well as members of the surrounding community, are invited to join in the cause.