Among Winners in ShopRite-General Mills
"Expressions of Hunger" Contest
a story where practically every connection leads back to MCCC,
a group of Mercer alumni is doing its part to take a bite
out of hunger. They are winners of the "Partners in Caring
Expressions of Hunger" contest sponsored by ShopRite
and General Mills for their video, "Half a Sandwich,"
which illustrates the hidden face of the hungry in America.
A group photo on the back of 150,000 boxes of Cheerios cereal
was unveiled at ShopRite Supermarkets this month. Photos of
the five other winners are also included.
Christine Magyarits, ShopRite's spokeswoman for the Expressions
of Hunger contest, spoke before a crowd gathered at the Montgomery
ShopRite on Sept. 9 for the cereal box unveiling. With entries
from a six-state region from Maryland to Connecticut, she
noted that the competition was fierce, but the video project
"You moved us. The video was touching and powerful, beautifully
acted and produced," Magyarits said. "We hope that
by posting it, your video will motivate others." See
the video on YouTube here.
For more about the Partners in Caring contest, visit here.
The video project is the brainchild of MCCC alumnus and current
adjunct instructor Dominick Rodriguez (Architecture '05) and
business partner Nick Kubian, an alumnus of Rutgers. Having
met years ago in the military, the two are the founders of
"Soupervan," an initiative to create a successful
and replicable business model for "evolved fast food."
According to Rodriguez, who also works at an architectural
firm in Princeton, the concept is a Salvation Army type of
social enterprise that is aimed at serving people healthy
food, raising money to make nonprofits self-supporting, and
Currently Rodriguez and Kubian are working to obtain funding
for their first van, which they hope to unveil at Rutgers'
Cook College later this year as a healthful alternative to
the university's infamous Grease Trucks. The van's menu will
feature soups and sandwiches customized by portion size and
ingredients, and accompanied by whole grain carbohydrates.
Learning of the Expressions of Hunger contest just days before
the deadline in early 2010, Rodriguez and Kubian jumped at
the chance for such widespread exposure. With only a few days
turn-around time, Rodriguez approached MCCC Television faculty
member Barry Levy and two of Levy's students, Meek DeBradley
and David Palacios, eagerly signed on as videographers for
"We thought it was a good cause and really good practice
for us," DeBradley recalled. Cast members included MCCC
alum, actress Rachael Platt (Communications '08) as a waitress
barely making ends meet, alum Cathy Wang (Advertising Design
'01) as a restaurant customer, and Rodriguez's 10-year-old
cousin Cassandra as the waitress' daughter. Also featured
in the video is Steven Medina as the other customer.
left, Shop Rite Manager Robert Avalone, MCCC alumnus Dominick
Rodriguez, Nick Kubian, MCCC alums Rachael Platt and Cathy
Wang, TV students David Palacios and Meek DeBradley, and ShopRite
Manager Michael Egan. At front is Kassandra Medina.
spokesperson Christine Magyarits, right, praised the Soupervan
video for its power and professionalism.
students Meek DeBradley, left, and David
Palacios display the special boxes of
Cheerios that feature them on the back.
resulting 78-second video delivers a compelling message in just
three short scenes, as Platt is first shot serving her customers,
then stealthily removing a leftover half-sandwich from the customer's
plate and wrapping it up. In the final scene, her daughter cheerfully
eats the sandwich unawares.
According to Palacios and DeBradley, the video was produced in one
very long day in three locations. After several semesters at MCCC,
both videographers felt well prepared heading into the assignment.
"We have learned film styles, lenses, and shooting skills,"
DeBradley said. "We began the program with talent and aspirations,
but we needed the skills that Mercer gave us."
Palacios added that the college loaned them the equipment for the
shoot. "It was one of the easiest shoots ever. Everyone was
very professional and the sets were ready." Both men are currently
pursuing work doing commercials and other video projects.
Actress Platt notes that the connections she formed with fellow
MCCC students have remained strong. She met Rodriguez in the early
2000s when they were both participants in Mouthworks, MCCC's oral
interpretation troupe. They have stayed in touch and she was glad
to take time out from other acting projects in Philadelphia and
New York to help out.
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