It took just 45 minutes to package 4,300 meals.
The meals were packaged during one of the shifts of the Meals from the Heartland event held on April 4 at the Perry Lutheran Home. Over 300 volunteers helped package around 30,000 meals throughout the day.
The volunteers, ranging from kindergartners to senior citizens, donned red hairnets and filled bags with a mixture of rice, soy, vegetables and vitamins. The bags were then weighed, sealed and labeled before being boxed up.
Mike Frandsen, of Meals from the Heartland, said one bag will feed a family of six. Some of the packaged meals will stay in Iowa. The other 90 percent, he said, will go to Haiti, Ghana, South Africa, the Philippines and six other countries.
Gina Webb was surprised at how far one bag of food would go.
“And where it all goes, it feeds a lot of people,” Vicki Klein added.
The pair worked with a group of kids at one of the tables set up in the Perry Lutheran Home's main campus.
“I had a blast. The kids made it fun,” Klein said.
Fifth-grader Isaiah Godoy was scooping rice at a nearby table.
“It felt good helping other people,” he said after his group finished packaging their meals.
Frandsen said for many of those served by the packaged meals, that meal may be the only one they have a day.
“I think especially for the youth that helps, it just makes everybody realize how fortunate that we are,” Amy Rathje said.
She was volunteering with Carol Vankirk and Janet Hawthorne. This was the third year the group from Mount Olivet Lutheran Church volunteered at the packaging event.
“We really enjoy doing it every year. It's fun and fast and you feel like you're making a difference for people by doing something,” Vankirk said.
The Perry Lutheran Home has hosted the Meals from the Heartland packaging event for the past three years.
“We like to host it because we want to be very community oriented,” said Mollie Clark, director of marketing. “And we're a care community that really wants our residents to live lives of purpose and wants to involve the community in helping live those purposeful lives.”