Food insecurity in Champaign County prompted Urbana FFA students to do more than collect canned goods or raise money for area food pantries.
The group spent two hours Friday packaging 50,000 soy-fortified macaroni and cheese meals for food pantries in the county, in conjunction with Meals of Hope.
Meals of Hope is a national non-profit organization that works to ease food insecurity in the United States. It partners with other groups to assemble the meals that are then distributed to food pantries.
Meals of Hope provides the food and packaging; the volunteers of the group assemble the meals, Urbana FFA Advisor Steve Wilhelm said.
FFA students got the idea to work with Meals of Hope after attending the FFA Washington, D.C. Leadership Conference last year. At that event, Urbana’s attendees joined other FFA members in packaging 139,000 individual meals for the organization.
“Food and security are key problems in our community, and a huge problem in the nation,” Urbana FFA Student Advisor Shane Souders said. “We wanted to think global, but act local.”
The meals are fortified with soy to provide more nutrients to those who may not be getting regular meals, he said.
Chapter members needed to raise $12,500 to pay for the meals and packaging. It was $60 short of its goal Friday, Souders said. Rittal Corporation in Urbana contributed $3,766 to the effort, and 20 of its employees dropped by to help package the meals.
Souders said the FFA may do this again in the future, perhaps every other year.
The chapter is still accepting donations. Anything over the goal amount will go to awards and recognition for students going above and beyond the call of duty, Souders said.
To donate or sponsor the event, call Wilhelm at 937-508-7320 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about Meals of Hope, visit meals-of-hope.org.
Casey S. Elliott may be reached at 937-652-1331 ext. 1772 or on Twitter @UDCElliott.Reach