From helmets to hair nets: How the Uof M and Notre Dame Men’s hockey teams helped stamp out hunger around the world

At the Feed My Starving Children Headquarters in Coon Rapids, MN, the number 1 Golden Gophers faced off against the number 2 Fighting Irish in a battle to end world hunger.

Just one night after their much-anticipated game at Mariucci Arena, both teams traded their helmets for hair nets, hockey sticks for measuring cups, and skates for sneakers to pack meals for starving children around the world.

Anyone who has had the opportunity to pack at a Feed My Starving Children site (locations in the Twin Cities, Chicagoland, and Phoenix area) knows what an exciting and rewarding experience it is to scoop specially formulated Chicken, Veggies, Soy, and Rice into 6-serving bags for kids of all ages on the brink of death.

And Wednesday night was no exception.

The Gophers and Fighting Irish used their competitive spirits to pack 104 boxes of life-giving meals. That’s enough to feed 22, 464 children.

Throughout the closed packing session, both teams stood on opposite sides of the room packing elbow to elbow with their line mates and teammates. They wore team polo’s to represent their school, but ultimately mixed and mingled as they schlepped around bins of rice and soy from the warehouse and carried off full boxes of meals for kids in El Salvador.

Players on both sides of the room sang along to the lively music, joked with teammates, competed for most boxes packed per table, and chatted away like every other person who comes in to pack.

The Notre Dame and U of M players working the warehouse (they bring extra soy and rice to the packing stations) were courteous and attentive to the needs of each station. A few Gophers said they were having fun hauling heavy bins around. When I asked one of the “runners” if he was having fun he replied, “yeah. It’s a hard workout!” I responded that he probably needed it. Of course, I was joking.

Other players said afterwards that they had packed before.

The smiles on players faces from both teams confirmed that their time together packing was fun and fulfilling.

Before the numbers of the night were reported, I asked a few Gophers, including goaltender Michael Shibrowski, if they had fun. All the guys sitting on the bench enthusiastically said yes and mentioned how they’d packed before or were planning to pack again. Chatter and typical college banter occurred throughout the orientation room as the teams waited for the final results of the night.

The Gophers packed 47 boxes. The Fighting Irish packed 48.

For those who care about scores. Which both of these teams do. More so last night than tonight.

Regardless of your D1 conference of choice, poll numbers, or favorite team, the Gophers and Fighting Irish displayed true sportsmanship.

As with every packing session, the staff invite the volunteers to don their hair nets once more and return to the warehouse to pray a blessing over the shipment. It is an invitation, not a requirement. The men on both sides of the room pulled out their hair nets, walked to the warehouse, and bowed their heads in prayer for the food that will be shipped out sometime next week. Their collective baritone “amen” closed out the night, a ringing reminder of the strength and soul involved in saving the lives of starving children with the ultimate Coach calling the shots.


For more information on packing at Feed My Starving Children or hosting a MobilePack in your state/town , go to




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