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Community food build volunteers package 60,000 meals for families with food insecurity

Nearly 300 people donated their time to package meals for families who are on the brink of starvation.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Each day, more people around the globe are faced with food insecurity. In Toledo, one in five children does not know where their next meal will come from.

But, thousands of families will be able to get another meal, thanks to some local volunteers and a community food build held at St. John's Jesuit High School in south Toledo.

The food packing event was held by SewHope,  in partnership with Kids Coalition Against Hunger. 

Nearly 300 people donated their time to package meals for families in this country and abroad who are on the brink of starvation.

"I wanted to do something to help the community. To help people in need, people who need food, especially around Thanksgiving time," said Carson Smith, volunteer and St. Francis de Sales High School senior.

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The goal of 60,000 meals was quickly met thanks to those volunteers, many of them from area high schools. But, it also helped to have an organized assembly line.

Friends Phoebe Dieter, Mallory Crawford, and Sydney Case, all seniors at Anthony Wayne High School, packed rice for the meal kits. 

"I'm weighing the rice and then I give it to Phoebe," said Phoebe's classmate and volunteer Mallory Crawford.

"And then Pheobe puts the bag on the sealer and I seal the bag shut and move it to the next box" explained Sydney Case, who is also a senior at Anthony Wayne High School.

Each completed packet has enough vitamins, minerals, and protein to feed six adults or 12 kids their daily nutrition.

"It's a combination of soy, rice, protein, and dried vegetables. It's packed together and sealed and then it's distributed," said  Cecilia Chaudhary, Development Director at SewHope.

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Leaders at SewHope say some of the meals will stay in our community and be donated to the SeaGate Food Bank of Northwest Ohio, but a majority of the meals will be sent to Guatemala.

"We're actually sending down a 40-foot container full of 250,000 meals of food for people down there," said Ann Ruch, one of the founders of SewHope. "They have a lot of problems with starvation, but now with COVID, they're out of work even more and people are literally eating coffee and tortillas for meals." 

On top of the 60,000 meals that were packaged in Toledo, another 250,000 will be packaged at the Kids Coalition Against Hunger warehouse, located in Michigan. 

"The reason we do what we do is because 14,500 kids under the age of 12 die each and every day because of malnutrition and one in five Americans goes to bed hungry," said Michael Burwell  Executive Director for Kids Coalition Against Hunger.

If you're interested in volunteering to help package meals, another community food build will be held in February.

You can find more information on SewHope's website.

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