As a 6-foot 2-inch, 285-pound offensive lineman, Joey Grant rarely misses a meal. In fact, Grant will often find ways to take advantage of extra opportunities to eat in an effort to balance his caloric intake with the large number of calories he burns as a college football player.
But when Grant heard representatives from Feeding Children Everywhere and UCF Fraternity & Sorority Life talk about the number of children in the Central Florida region who don’t know when they will eat their next meal, he realized he was literally holding a way he could help in his right hand.
Grant was attending a UCF Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) meeting, which serves regular meals to its membership. He was eating one of those meals when he learned about UCF’s Pack to Attack Hunger project and the serious issue of hunger in Central Florida. That’s when he cooked up an idea. He put down the fork he was holding and chose to speak up instead of taking another bite of his meal.
“At our SAAC meetings, they serve us a big dinner – a lot of food,” Grant said. “I thought ‘Why would we need this food? We get Knightro’s. We go to Publix. We have plenty of food.’ So I suggested we sacrifice a week and donate the money that would have gone to us to these kids who need food. Everyone seemed to like the idea.”
SAAC President Afia Charles said the suggestion coming from a big eater like Grant was ironic, but poignant.
“When Joey comes in, the first thing he does is go to the food,” Charles said. “He’ll be polite, stack his plate, wait until everyone has finished eating … then he’ll try to go secretly and get more food and go back to his group. Then, toward the end of the meeting, he’ll go back for even more food. To see that he was willing to give up his dinner on a Monday night to feed people in need, that’s a really big deal. It’s a good thing that you have people out there, who are willing to give up what they have for other people.”
Of his idea, Grant said: “I fill up my plate. I mean, it’s there. But they were bringing up that all these kids don’t know when they’re going to eat next. We know we’re eating at 6:30 every Monday at the SAAC meeting. Everyone thought it was a great idea to sacrifice a meal so these kids can get fed. That’s a lot more important to me than filling myself up on a big plate – or two or three – on a Monday night.”
Assistant Director of Student Services Jessica Francis said the average cost of a SAAC meal is between $150 and $175. Thanks to Grant’s suggestion, UCF’s SAAC will skip its scheduled meal on Nov. 4 and donate at least $150 to Pack to Attack Hunger. While it was his idea, Grant didn’t want all the credit, saying others were quick to go along with the plan.
“I’m just glad I could help,” Grant said. “I think it will be good for the community.”
UCF’s Pack to Attack Hunger event is slated for Nov. 16 at The Venue at UCF. It is a partnership that includes UCF Student Government Association, UCF Fraternity & Sorority Life, UCF Athletics and Feeding Children Everywhere.
To donate, volunteer or get more information about UCF’s Pack To Attack Hunger project, visitwww.PackToAttackHungerUCF.com.