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Meals From the Heartland Event at St. Paul Presbyterian Nets More than 65,000 Meals

Hundreds of volunteers packaged meals Saturday at a Mobile Hunger Fight at St. Paul Presbyterian Church in Johnston.

The assembly lines that filled St. Paul Presbyterian's gym Saturday operated like well-oiled machines.

The church hosted one of Johnston's first Mobile Hunger Fights for Meals from the Heartland.

From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. assembly lines of eight to ten people created an estimated 65,000 meals for the non-profit organization.

Zach and Tyler Halverson, 9, were busy making sure their team's line moved smoothly.

"My job is to put stickers on the bags and put them in the box," Zach said.

Annie Temple, who helped organize the event at the church, said the idea to bring Meals from the Heartland to Johnston came easily.

"We just wanted to give people the opportunity to help," she said. "We had a pretty good response, getting word out."

Temple said organizers send letters to local businesses asking for sponsors and volunteers, then went door-to-door to talk to people.

Overall, the group was able to raise $13,000 for the event, enough to make about 65,000 meals, Hunger Fight Manager Joel O'Dell said.

Meals From the Heartland first began the Mobile Hunger Fights in 2011.

This year, the organization has made 2.3 million meals from about 75 mobile sites, while the annual packaging event at Hy-Vee Hall created 5.1 million meals.

"Year-to-date we have 7.4 million meals, we have a chance to make 8 million meals before the year is over," O'Dell said. "They have become very, very popular."

Most commonly, schools, churches and businesses sponsor the mobile events.

"People feel it's more community centered," he said. "They feel like they are helping the local area."

Meals From the Heartland has donated meals to both the Food Bank of Iowa and DMARC food pantries, O'Dell said.

Temple said anyone considering undertaking a Meals From the Heartland Mobile Hunger Fight event should know it's very doable.

"It is a big undertaking, it takes the whole church," she said. "Everyone has a job."

But the result is more than rewarding for both volunteers and those they are helping.

Kay November 20, 2012 at 01:25 AM
SUCH a worthwhile and fun undertaking!
Ashlee Kieler November 20, 2012 at 01:27 AM
Kay- did you participate? When I stopped by it looked like everyone was having a great time!

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