ODU group collects leftover concessions for homeless


In India, Saivijay Arra saw homeless families on the streets every day.

When he came to America, where he is working toward a master's degree in mechanical engineering at Old Dominion University, he was surprised by what he saw.

"I never thought the U.S. had homeless people," Arra said. "It's a rich country."

Arra wanted to help in India, but he didn't know where to start. An estimated 80 million people live in homelessness there.

At ODU, the group Global Student Friendship gave him a chance to lend a hand closer to campus.

After football and basketball games, concerts and other campus events, the student group's volunteers gather leftover concession stand food to donate to Union Mission Ministries in Norfolk as part of the Food for the Homeless program. More than 15,000 meals have been donated since Global Student Friendship partnered with ODU's food service provider, Aramark, and the school's Center for Service and Civic Engagement in January 2011.

Kurnia Foe, a Ph.D. student in electrical engineering, founded the student group in 2005 to help bridge the gap between local and international students. When the university reached out to students to help with leftover food donations, Foe jumped at the opportunity. He saw it as a chance to not only aid the community, but also broaden international students' perspectives of America.

"It's providing them a way of serving in the U.S. and inspiring them to bring about change when they go back home," said Foe, who is from Indonesia.

More than 100 volunteers representing 20 countries have volunteered, he said. The average event yields enough to feed 300 people for several days.

"If the food is not donated, it will go into the trash can," Foe said.

After football fans in Monarch blue and silver emptied out of Foreman Field on Saturday, Foe, Arra and eight other volunteers got to work. At the concession stand between gates 103 and 104, soft pretzels, chicken wings and ham biscuits remained, and the volunteers carried them to their cars by the boxfull.

It took only 20 minutes for the volunteers to load up four car trunks, but the haul was significant: 77 pizzas, 80 hot dogs and 43 burgers, along with chicken tenders, prime rib, meatballs and tins filled with chili.

"Imagine that amount of food being wasted," said Frency Varghese, a biomedical engineering Ph.D. student also from India. "You can't even imagine that happening in India."

Arra said he hopes to work in the United States for two years after he finishes his master's degree, then go back to India. Already, the seed has been planted - Arra said he'd like to start a similar program in India.

As the last hot dogs made it into the trunk, Foe looked at the time. If they left now, he said, they could make it to Union Mission in time for the first group of people to arrive for dinner.

"All right," Foe said. "Let's go."

Margaret Matray, 757-222-5150,


Posted to: News Norfolk

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Great article, thanks

Thanks to all of the students and others who are involved in this program. What a help to the community and the folks who need food. These students I'm sure make ODU proud. Yeah, the football and all is great, I guess....but, this is what a university should be known for. Folks studying hard, bettering themselves, and helping the community.

Class of '75

""I never thought the U.S.

""I never thought the U.S. had homeless people," Arra said. "It's a rich country."
What Arra fails to grasp is this nation is blessed. Homeless people,for the most part in this nation choose to be homeless.Case in point, the "homeless" vet in NY City that was given the pair of boots by the police officer but isn't really homeless. His brother said he chooses to live that way. Homeless people in America can not only get a free place to sleep at a shelter,they can get free clothes,free food,vouchers for day care for their children, and free bus tokens there too to help them go out and find a job. You don't see starving,homeless people in America with flys buzzing around their heads, Arra. That should give you a clue.


Yes, we are truly blessed, but we continue to squander that blessing. What Justwords fails to grasp is that if we had the wealth distribution of a first world country instead of a third world plutocracy, there would be no poor nor homeless people in the US. I think Arra understands a lot more than you ever will.

"there would be no poor nor

"there would be no poor nor homeless people in the US. I think Arra understands a lot more than you ever will." Typical comment from someone who lives in a fantasy world. I base my opinion on actually having worked with homeless people. Not to mention the bible says the poor will ALWAYS be among us. To think homelessness or poverty is going away is about as out of touch with reality as the goofballs that believe they can "save the planet".

No point in talking to you

I live in a fantasy world, but then you quote the Bible to justify leaving people in poverty.

You say the US is exceptional but we can't do a thing to help our fellow citizens without your ridicule.

You claim you have worked with homeless people and then claim they are living the high life on easy street.

Bottom Line: I will not agree to lower the United States to your standards.

MIA: If you think

MIA: If you think redistribution of wealth works, then why did people under communism stand in breadlines? Furthermore, maybe you should read what Governor Bradford had to say about the first attempt at "socialism" in America. You remember Governor Bradford,right? The man who wrote about how the pilgrims were supposed to work the land and share with all. He said that the problem was, some people did not work as hard as others and there was resentment among those who did and they slacked off. At harvest time, the yield was small. The next year, each family was given their own land to grow crops and the yield was plentiful. I get so tired of these pie in the sky liberals and their "redistribution of wealth" nonsense.

If you think

Unconstrained capitalism works, then why do we still have homeless people in the United States? For a party that doesn't believe in evolution and Darwinism, you sure believe in survival of the fittest. If you had the choice between living in Nigeria or Canada, assume you would choose Nigeria, because that is where policies like yours will lead. "Help fight the war on poverty, throw a grenade at a bum".

Another tip for Arra: I

Another tip for Arra: I learned this from a woman who chose to live in a shelter with her children rather than pay rent and bills: The shelter required her to turn over her paycheck so they could save money for her with the idea she would someday be able to support herself. What she did was keep a separate account secret from the shelter. While not all the people you are feeding may be as cunning as this woman was,keep in mind she didn't come up with that scheme on her own. This IS AMERICA,the land of GIMMEE GIMMEE.

You got that right

Give me more money, because though I have been hoarding money instead of "job creating", I need more. There is a sucker born every minute. Just admit it, you are just jealous that Arra has a heart and actually gives two cents about his fellow citizens.

MIA: I have been feeding the

MIA: I have been feeding the poor long before Arra was even born.RIGHT HERE IN AMERICA. Just what poor person did you feed this week? As a matter of fact, when on Christmas morning you will be greedily opening gifts and stuffing your face with food,I'll be teaching a poverty stricken person how to cook meals she can store up in her refrigerator to make what little money she has go farther.

Whatever ...

You can claim whatever you want if it makes you feel better about the negative things you post. Personally, I doubt you have ever met a poor person. My guess is you live in neighborhood as far as possible from Norfolk/Postmouth where all the houses and people look alike.


You say that the vast majority of the homeless and poor in this country choose to be there, and yet you they turn around and give them food and assistance. Why you are enabling these bad behaviors? Wouldn't the proper form of help be to force them to do for themselves?

So, either you know that the majority of the homeless and poor in this country are victims of circumstance and you claim otherwise because it gives you some strange moral high ground, or you truly believe they choose that life and you don't mind enabling them because you think it gives you some strange moral high ground.

Comment deleted

Comment removed for rules violation. Reason: Post continued, repeated


It's wonderful to see such compassion and altruism in young people. Whether someone "chooses" to be homeless through mental illness, substance abuse or a combination of other factors, compassion and care are always in order. Thank goodness we are reading about a dedication to serve our fellow man rather than something selfish Kudos to these students!

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