WEST LIBERTY – Dozens of students from the Urbana, Triad, Graham and West Liberty-Salem FFA chapters gathered at WL-S on Wednesday to package and deliver nearly 50,000 meals to local community centers.
The event marked the fourth consecutive year that Urbana FFA, which started the program in the county, participated in Meals of Hope. This group is the only group in the nation to participate in the program for four years.
“Urbana had a few kids that went to the Washington Leadership Conference and they had Meals of Hope at that conference. So a few kids got to experience it first-hand and they came back and said, ‘We want to do this in our community,’” Urbana Advisor Mallory Zachrich said. “So we had our students draft up a letter and work on getting donations from the community. And we hosted it the first year. But we knew if we wanted to continue, we needed to get the other schools involved, to make it expand and grow. We’re a lot stronger when we’re together.”
It seemed that way, with students mingling in the gymnasium at West Liberty-Salem and packaging more than 250 boxes of fortified macaroni and cheese product, each with more than 30 six-serving pouches inside.
WL-S Advisor Trista Havens said the morning activities occurred without much trouble.
“Hosting, honestly, it’s been stressful, but it’s gone very smoothly. Getting everything together – with the athletic director and the custodians, principals and teachers and putting it all together – I didn’t know it could go this smoothly,” Havens said.
Once sorted and boxed, the meals were loaded onto buses and delivered to community centers in Champaign and Logan counties.
The deliveries Wednesday were made to Urbana’s Caring Kitchen, the Urbana Senior Center, The WhereHouse in Urbana, Stepping Stones in Urbana, the St. Paris Food Pantry, Bellefontaine First Church of God, Western Outreach of Bellefontaine and Lutheran Services in Bellefontaine.
“It was the students that wanted to get it started. The Washington Leadership Conference is about bringing community service back to your community,” Urbana Advisor Steve Wilhelm said.
The meals are funded by business, church and individual sponsors, as well as the schools’ FFA fundraisers. To donate, contact an FFA advisor.