Thousands of volunteers package thousands of meals for hungry NJ residents
NJ Hunger Project will be holding its annual meal packing event to fight food insecurity this Saturday, Aug. 13 at Robbinsville High School in Robbinsville, NJ from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
While NJ Hunger Project has been doing this event for seven years, this is the first time the two local non-profits, Be Kind and ONE Project will be cohosting the event for local communities.
During the well-oiled assembly line, 1000 volunteers will pack over 100,000 meals in a five-hour time frame, with 200 volunteers working each hour, said Cynthia Rosen, co-founder of Be Kind.
“We are making Italian veggie pasta. Each bag that we put together is six FDA-approved meals. Once you put all the ingredients in, you have a bag that is for six meals,” Rosen said.
Every time a box is packed with 36 meals, she said a loud cow bell rings and excitement fills the air.
All 100,000 meal kits will be donated to Mercer Street Friends Food Bank and other partners throughout the state.
In past years, NJ Hunger Project meals included macaroni and cheese, rice and beans, and apple-cinnamon oatmeal bags. Rosen said the idea is to give families the ingredients to prepare hot, healthy, and nutritious meals.
There are a couple of goals behind this annual meal packing event, Rosen said.
“One is to bring like-minded people together who like to volunteer for a good cause and just to have fellowship, and experience each other’s differences while working together on one project,” she said.
Another goal is to fight insecurity. According to Feeding America’s Map, the meal gap study, 1 in 11 children in New Jersey face hunger and are considered food insecure.
The statistics are shocking, said ONE Project board director, Rajnarind Kaur.
“In order to address this need, we are targeting our meals to programs that help distribute food to those in need via several local food pantries and organizations. The NJ Hunger Project is an incredible community effort exemplifying selfless service,” Kaur said.
Rosen added, “we like to help where we can. We package the meals and they go out to the local families where we can help them meet their needs of feeding their families.”
Volunteers are still needed for Saturday’s meal packing event. Those interested can sign up at Event Brite, on the ONE Project or Be Kind webpages, or on the NJ Hunger Project Facebook pages.
People can sign up for an hour or the whole day. All help is accepted.
Line leaders are needed for the whole day to monitor the tables and make sure everything is flowing smoothly. Set up and clean-up crews are also needed.
It’s all about bringing people together to make a difference and have an impact in fighting food security throughout the state, Kaur said.
Jen Ursillo is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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