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Melon research at ISU to benefit children

Published: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 11:42 a.m. CDT

AMES (MCT) — A new event on Iowa State University’s campus is promising “copious amounts of melon” to raise money for nutrition and education in Uganda.

Melon Mania, a new club on campus, will hold its first fundraising event on Sept. 11 on ISU’s Central Campus. The group will be providing melons leftover from ISU research to either purchase or use in a variety of games.

Victor Theng, junior in nutritional science and global resource systems, was approached to do something with the research leftovers during the recent school year. Theng said ISU grew roughly 40,000 cantaloupes last year but because they are used in research, they could not be sold and only 60 were able to be donated.

“Most places around the Ames area can only take so many melon donations, and we’re predicted to make 46,000 melons this year,” Theng said.

“I was a little hesitant because it was the end of the semester when the idea came about. But the idea of a food event kind of drove me crazy and I decided I’ve got to do something about this.”

Along with a full executive team, more than 10 ISU clubs and more than 25 faculty members, Theng is prepared to kick off the first Melon Mania event in the fall semester.

Proceeds from the event will go to Establish and Grow, an ISU organization helping to provide food and education to the Kamuli District of Uganda.

Theng said malnutrition and no money for school materials create a struggle for the children in that area, but feeding one student for a full school year could only cost $4.72, and a notebook for each student would only cost an additional 25 cents. During the event, the community can purchase whole melons for $2 each, or three melons for $5.

“The idea behind the $5 is every three melons you purchase, you’re feeding a child in Uganda for a year,” Theng said.

Along with buying whole melons, smoothies and slices, event-goers will also be able to use inedible melons to play games like Melon Plinko, Melon Bowling or slice in the Melon Guillotine.

Theng said the range of ideas for foods and activities is due to a wide range of organizers involved.

More than 10 clubs are involved, ranging from the food science club to Hope 4 Africa, a club working with schools in Kenya. Theng added that more than 25 faculty members were involved in the planning process, including assistant deans and heads of the agriculture, horticulture and global resource systems departments.

“It was for the greater cause,” he said. “This will help bring in a different crowd. Each person has a different expertise, and the last thing I wanted to do was have everyone with the same mindset.”

While the first event is still on the way, Theng said he is confident that Melon Mania will be around ISU for years to come.

He and his team made it an official university club, “so it will continue every single year.”

Melon Mania

Where: Iowa State University’s Central Campus

When: Thursday, Sept. 11, from 4 to 9 p.m.

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©2014 the Ames Tribune, Iowa

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