Earle Hall’s Loaves of Love rises to meet hunger needs

Yesmeena Shmaitelly started a service project that makes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and donates then to Shepherd’s Heart Food Pantry. Photo courtesy of Yesmeena Shmaitelly.

By Jonah Kramer | Staff Writer

Loaves of Love will host its final sandwich-making event of the semester on Friday in the Earle Hall classroom.

Allen junior Yesmeena Shmaitelly, president of community development and programming at Earle Hall, said she started the service project at Baylor last fall. This year, she said the total number of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches donated to Shepherd’s Heart Food Pantry is nearing 4,000.

Shmaitelly, who is also chair of community service at the Alpha Epsilon Delta (AED) honor society, said that what began as an opportunity for Earle Hall residents expanded into an operation involving the Impact & Lead Living-Learning Community and pre-health organizations like AED.

Last year, around two dozen people served at Loaves of Love events. Shmaitelly said the number of volunteers has increased to almost fill up a whole room.

“We’re going to have to expand the room this Friday for our largest service, ‘Serving with the Scientists,’” Shmaitelly said. “We’ve partnered with over six pre-health organizations.”

This school year, Shmaitelly said almost 40 volunteers have gathered in the Earle Hall classroom every other Friday to make sandwiches in an “assembly-line approach.” On average, the group makes 400 to 600 sandwiches, which Shepherd’s Heart Food Pantry — the “largest faith-based food pantry in Central Texas” — distributes to local nursing homes.

“I was especially touched by the fact [that] they said some of the patients who lived in the nursing homes didn’t really have teeth or didn’t have the best teeth, so [nursing home residents] said that some of their best snacks were the sandwiches that they were getting,” Shmaitelly said. “That was wonderful.”

San Antonio senior Matt Solis, an AED member and a regular Loaves of Love volunteer, said making and donating the sandwiches enables the group to serve people who are not usually seen.

“It’s important to … let people know that we’re there for them,” Solis said. “Especially with COVID-19, it’s been a very rough few years for people, especially for those in the nursing homes.”

The effort is made possible by the contributions of Baylor Dining, which provides the bread for every event. Student volunteers are also asked to bring either peanut butter or jelly when they sign up.

“[East Village Dining Hall donates] over 40 loaves of actual bread so that we can kind of combat the food waste that would go on at the dining hall and then also take that, make sandwiches and donate it,” Shmaitelly said.

Shmaitelly said she was inspired to bring Loaves of Love to Baylor after serving in a similar program at her high school. With the creation of a Loaves of Love chair position within AED, she said she is taking steps to ensure the service continues after her graduation.

“I think Loaves of Love is a unique opportunity to serve on campus,” Shmaitelly said. “When I came here my first year, I didn’t have a car. I didn’t really have any way to get transportation. So the organizations that I was a part of required service obviously, and I wanted to be as involved in service as I was in high school.”

Solis said she enjoys the energetic atmosphere at Loaves of Love events, which include music and camaraderie.

“When I walk in there, it’s not like I’m there to do work,” Solis said. “I walk in there because I’m doing something that I genuinely enjoy doing.”