On Sunday, March 11th, 365 volunteers came together at the Pequannock Valley Middle School in Pompton Plains, NJ to package 59,000 meals in a little over 3 hours. That is nearly 20,000 meals per hour or 327 meals per minute!
Why did these volunteers come together and where are these meals going?
Volunteers were middle school students and their families, Boy Scouts, members of a local church and other dedicated individuals. They heard about the event through their local community leaders and signed up for one hour shifts to take part in the fight to end hunger. As a result, half of the meals were donated to the Community Food Bank of New Jersey and the other half were sent to three cities in Haiti. All of the meals were made to help deserving people in need who are struggling to put food on the table.
The meal packaging event was the result of two California-based nonprofits working together, Always Positive and Friends and Family Community Connection (FFCC). After co-hosting an event in San Diego in October 2011 where 134,000+ meals were packed by 1,400 volunteers, the team decided to co-host an event in northern New Jersey where the majority of food pantries had yet to return to their pre-Hurricane Irene levels. Both events were so successful and had so many dedicated volunteers that plans are underway to organize numerous meal-packing events across the country.
The number of volunteers who turned out and the number of bags filled with freeze-dried rice, soy, vegetables and vitamins did not solely have an impact on the fight against hunger. In line with Always Positive’s mission to inspire people and organizations to “Be Positive” and motive them to “Do Something Positive”, it was widely felt on Sunday that new friendships were formed, families grew closer through volunteering together, a town and community were united and there was positive re-enforcement that one person can make a difference in our world.