NYYP Kiwanis

Serving the Children of the World.


Kids Against Hunger - Meeting the Million Meal Mark

Posted by New York Young Professionals on December 2, 2013 at 8:45 PM

I was first introduced to the organization Kids Against Hunger through a Key Club district convention in 2006. (Thanks, Key Club!) Even then, the organization’s mission—feeding the hungry here and the starving abroad while teaching children the power of volunteerism—got under my skin because it showed me that with a little teamwork, I could help alleviate global hunger.

The concept touched me deeply, and it still does—even more so now that I have a Master’s in Development Studies and conduct research on the impact of politics on aid effectiveness and global hunger. In 2011, after years of continuing to participate in as many packagings around Michigan as I could, I decided to host my own—raising $2,800 and securing 175 volunteers to package 10,000.

When I moved to Indianapolis, and connected with my new home state’s satellite, the level of involvement and passion I had for the organization led them to ask me to become a Red Shirt Team member able to help facilitate packaging sessions. I also agreed to become part of the group planning the annual million meal marathon, using my communications and public relations skills to serve the sponsorship and marketing committee. This event was conceived of three years ago by our director, who at the time planned and executed it with only the assistance of three others!

On November 5th, 4,000 volunteers came together with one mission: to pack as close to one million meals as possible. The event began at 9 am, and by 9:02 am, I was already crying. Attendees were welcomed to Lucas Oil Stadium (the home of the Indianapolis Colts) by representatives of the organizations their work would benefit, and one of them—a minister from Haiti named Pierre—told us of the impact that Kids Against Hunger’s meals had on his students and how grateful he was to lessen the pain of hunger that he himself felt as a child. His testimony was also a strong testament to our accountability—when the Air Force delivers our meals to Haiti, he personally distributes them to those who need them most.

Tears continued to well up throughout the morning as I realized how quickly our total was climbing. By 11 am, volunteers from schools and companies all across the Indianapolis area had packed an excess of 300,000 meals—an astounding total when you consider that each of the four shifts needed to pack 250,000 to enable us to safely reach our million meal mark. As someone who had never been part of a pack whose total exceeded 19,000 meals, reporting this total on our social media accounts was an emotional realization.

Throughout the day, as I continued to interact with our volunteers as the event photographer, I recorded nothing but happiness and determination from volunteers of all ages and ethnicities. After encouraging visits from Butler University cheerleaders, Star Wars Indiana, and several Indianapolis Colts players, when it became clear around 6:30 pm that we would cross the million meal mark for the first time in the event’s three year history, my emotions surged again as I realized that our hard work paid off. Our final total, announced after a flurry of balloons and shouting as we passed one million, was 1,003,019,304!

When I finally went home and got some much needed rest, I slept restlessly. The first thing I did the next morning was to check Facebook—to make sure that all the updates and photos of our progress I thought I had posted were actually real. I feel so blessed to have worked with such a committed group of Kids Against Hunger of Central Indiana volunteers to execute the event—and even more privileged to have supported the work of so many dedicated and selfless volunteers. Days like that are why I serve. Although I hope that someday in the not-so-distant future I can continue to understand and combat the reasons why global hunger continues as a diplomat, researcher and/or aid worker, in serving with Kids Against Hunger I can be confident that I am working to stem the tide of starvation.

---Courtney Meyer, NYYP President-Elect

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