Pop music muffles the rapid, almost choreographed movement of more than a thousand high schoolers’ hands as they scoop, fill, seal and pack meals — one after the next — for children on the other side of the world. The music is loud at the Meals from the Heartland’s annual Hunger Fight Event, but not loud enough to quell the occasional celebratory cheer.
“Every time you hear someone cheer, that’s a box being packed,” explains 17-year-old volunteer, Aimee Rodin. “There are starving people around the world. The fact that we can help those people is amazing.”
Every year, Meals from the Heartland (MFTH) — one of Convoy of Hope’s largest partners — packs out Des Moines, Iowa’s, Hy-Vee Hall with 15,000 volunteers like Aimee to pack millions of meals over four days for Convoy of Hope’s Children’s Feeding Initiative.
“Every package feeds six people and every box feeds 216 people,” says Dan Koestner, a volunteer. As a partner at a major accounting firm, Koestner thinks the numbers behind hunger don’t add up. “With the kind of abundance we have in the world, it’s not logical that we have as many hungry people as we do.”
Jerry Armstrong, MFTH board chairman concurs. “Over the next few days, this is the hunger fighting capitol of the world,” says Armstrong, as he enters the packing area with a brand new shift of volunteers. “Yesterday, we finished our first million meals. Today, we’re starting our second million.”
As the four-day event comes to a close, the last of 4.3 million meals gets loaded on to a Convoy of Hope tractor-trailer for distribution in one of 11 countries where Convoy of Hope feeds children.