Flow to Feed

Lauren Toracinta ’06 leads a yogathon to benefit Edesia. Held as part of URI’s Greek Life Philanthropy Week, the event attracted over 300 participants.

URI students bend, stretch, giggle to raise money for Edesia

Two yogis with ties to URI were in dolphin pose recently, when they decided to change the world. Lauren Toracinta ’06 wanted to hold a “giant” yoga class and Kerry Donovan ’16 wanted to benefit a Rhode Island nonprofit that helps malnourished children.

“Flow to Feed” was born. The event on November 17 in the Memorial Union Ballroom on the Kingston Campus exceeded expectations by attracting more than 300 people and raising $1,350 for Edesia, makers of Plumpy’Nut, a nutrition-rich peanut butter paste distributed globally and hailed as a miracle food for saving lives in seven weeks. “We’re so thankful to the students,” said Elizabeth Atalay, digital and social media specialist at Edesia. “It’s incredible to get students involved. This is the next generation, the people solving global issues.”

The event was a fun way for students to exercise—and do something meaningful for others. Beginners and longtime yoga enthusiasts crowded into the Union’s ballroom to stretch, bend and breathe—deeply. “A lot of people were doing yoga for the first time so there was a lot of giggling,” said Donovan. “A lot of people were surprised how difficult the workout was.”

Kerry Donovan and Lauren Toracinta

Toracinta, who majored in coastal policy and management, was a gym rat for years, weight lifting and running on a treadmill so she could “drink and eat what I wanted.” One day, a friend suggested she take a yoga class. She was hooked. “I felt amazing afterward,” said the Charlestown, R.I. resident. “We call it a yoga high. It’s euphoric.” Two years ago, she opened the Rhode Island Yoga Center in the Kingston Emporium, next to the Kingston Campus.

Donovan, a marketing major and fellow yogi, has been volunteering at the center for the last year, handling social media in exchange for yoga classes. “It’s so satisfying to help a Rhode Island organization tackling an important health issue—childhood malnutrition,” she said. “We’re thrilled to contribute to their global mission.”

Some 220 million children suffer from malnutrition, a malady that not only kills, but also causes serious health problems, like stunted growth. Since opening in 2010, Edesia has fed millions of children from Chad to Pakistan.

The yogathon was part of URI’s Greek Life Philanthropy Week.

Donovan is graduating in December with a degree in marketing, but hopes to pass the project on to one of her sorority sisters. “I think we need a bigger space and more mats. It’s such a great way to raise money for a good cause.’’

Toracinta, a former member of Alpha Chi Omega, would like to host another event: “We were overflowing out of the ballroom. It was awesome.’’