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Trojans sandwich in record-breaking feat

Students assemble 17,341 meals in one hour

ham and cheese sandwiches
The key was making ham and cheese sandwiches. (USC Photo/Meghan Coyle)

USC students broke a Guinness World Record in Alumni Park on March 28 by making 17,341 sandwiches in one hour — more than tripling the previously held record of 5,721.

More than 250 students came out for the event, which offered the winners a $500 gift card. The USC Special Events Committee and the USC Zeta Phi Rho fraternity sponsored the contest.

All the sandwiches were donated to Union Rescue Mission, Midnight Mission and other homeless groups.

Zeta Phi Ro, a multicultural fraternity, has been organizing smaller-scale sandwich-making events to feed the homeless for 12 years. In pre-event training, members shared their expertise in speedy sandwich assembly with participants.

Zeta Phi Rho President Vincent Ong said the secrets to quick and consistent sandwiches were the use of ham and cheese versus peanut butter and jelly and individual assembly of each sandwich, as opposed to an assembly line approach.

“We tested a production-style method, but it was proven to be faster if everyone made their own sandwich,” Ong said. Practice runs revealed that each person could feasibly build 100 sandwiches in the time frame.

Participants were so expeditious that they went through most of the 20,000 pieces of ingredients within the first 30 minutes.

While the competitive spirit of USC students played a major role in breaking the record, many were even more motivated by the impact the meals would have on the local community. A number of community members and homeless advocates came out to cheer the students on and share their appreciation for the effort.

Kim Chu, director of the Special Events Committee, said that it felt “incredible” to organize an event with such impact.

“It is an honor to be able to make an actual difference on the community, as well as leave a legacy for USC, especially since it’s my final semester here,” Chu said.

She added that evidence would still need to be submitted to the Guinness World Record team before the students can officially claim the title.

But Ong noted that the event was about much more than breaking a record.

“We wanted to bring people together to work on one cause and make them aware of the issue of homelessness,” he said. “It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my college life.”

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