AmeriCorps Volunteer Matt Pershe Uses Olive Garden Never Ending Pasta Pass to Raise Hunger Awareness

You might not have heard about Olive Garden's Never Ending Pasta Pass, and if you did, you might have been horrified — seven weeks of unlimited Olive Garden pasta, after all, is not for the faint of heart. But one AmeriCorps volunteer is using the Never Ending Pasta Pass to help raise awareness of hunger in the US. So that really is pretty cool.

After Matt Pershe first heard about the passes, which cost $100, he was intrigued. Volunteering for the AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service To America Program, Pershe gets a stipend for living expenses which is designed to match poverty-level wages for the city in which he lives, in this case Philadelphia. The stipend is meant to help volunteers better understand what it's like to live in poverty, and since it means Pershe earns less than $250 a week, it's also quite a challenge.

So the prospect of only needing to spend $100 for seven weeks of food was an opportunity Pershe jumped at. When the 1,000 available passes went on sale on September 8th, Pershe became one of the 500,000 people vying to get one — and emerged victorious.

And as one would expect from a person conscientious enough to sign up with AmeriCorps, Pershe decided to chronicle the experience on a Tumblr in which he also brings up more serious issues of hunger and access to food. He hopes the blog will give people some sense of what it is like to live at or near the poverty line, and the way that impacts people's lives and health.

"As has been observed in America," he writes on the Tumblr, The Never Ending Pasta Blog, "income influences dietary choices. I suppose I am no exception to this trend."

Indeed, it's a well-known fact at this point that low-income people are more likely to have better access to processed, high-calorie foods than to fresh fruits and vegetables, which carries with it serious potential healthy risks. Hoping to combat this risk, Pershe has decided to start an exercise routine during his seven weeks of Olive Garden eating that will hopefully offset some of the calories. He also makes each pasta order last for multiple meals, and notes on Tumblr that if he gets really desperate he might try to do some food swapping — trading kind souls his leftover Olive Garden pasta for other, healthier meals.

Hopefully, though he doesn't get too sick of Olive Garden — and hopefully they figure out how to scan his pass properly soon — and in the meantime, we can all follow along through the magic of the Internet and find out just what it's like to get by on nothing but Olive Garden.

Images: Wikipedia Commons; (2)