When Community School of Davidson teacher Shane Capps decided that Meal Mania would be a good eighth-grade service project, students Devin Carbonaro, Cole Guill, Megan Harris, Alexa Levi, Abbi Smith and Liam Timoney joined in.
Mania is an acronym for Millions Are Needing Immediate Aid, and the food-packing event was directed by the CitiIMPACT Ministries – a nonprofit disaster relief organization based in Davidson.
On Oct. 23, the students – with more than 70 other children and parent volunteers from the community – kicked off the event by working as a team to see how many meals they could pack in their two-hour shift.
Over the next two days, 291 volunteers packed 80,160 meals inside the gym at Community School of Davidson.
Toni Smith, mother of Abbi Smith and co-director of CitiIMPACT Ministries, said that some of the meals would go to flood victims in South Carolina and some may go to ready stations for the next hurricane. But no matter where they go, she said, people will need them and appreciate them.
Smith asked fellow CSD parents Jennifer and Tim Steward to coordinate the local Meal Mania event before taking the idea to Capps.
Smith said they’ve been sending teams and supplies into disaster areas since hurricane Katrina in 2005. “We started Meal Mania three years ago, and we’ve packed more than 500,000 meals, but this is the first time we’ve done it locally,” she said. They have previously held events in Myrtle Beach and in Charleston, W.Va.
Each station required a group of 17 volunteers to pack the meals, which come in bags that can be emptied into a pot of water to make a nutritious rice-and-beans mixture.
One person would get the bag ready, one would hold the bag on the funnel and then two more would measure the ingredients and pour them through the funnel into the bag. Weights and packing instructions were followed very carefully to maximize the number of bags that would fit in each box.
Once sealed, each bag contained a mixture of beans, rice, a scoop of Vita powder – which contained vitamins and protein – and a scoop of dehydrated vegetables. J.D. Smith, co-director of CitiIMPACT, said each bag would contain enough food, once it was cooked, for six meals.
“In Third World countries, 60 percent of their calorie intake is rice, so when people get these food packs and see the rice, they know to start heating up water to cook,” he said, which would make it easier to use for anyone, even those who can’t read, to use the pack.
Toni Smith said that the volunteers from the community included families from Liberty Prep Christian Academy, Girl Scouts Troop 1060, Grace Covenant Church, Kannapolis Church of God, Mooresville Reformed Presbyterian Church, Harvest Church and Dry CPA employees.
Marty Price is a freelance writer: email@example.com
For information on CITIIMPACT Ministries or Meal Mania, go to www.citiimpact.org