Local students, volunteers work to feed hungry children

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published November 6, 2013

 Helen McGuinness, a clerk with the Macomb County Health Department, marks boxes for packaging during the Kids Against Hunger event Oct. 24 at St. Margaret of Scotland Catholic Church.

Helen McGuinness, a clerk with the Macomb County Health Department, marks boxes for packaging during the Kids Against Hunger event Oct. 24 at St. Margaret of Scotland Catholic Church.

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — Partaking in a day set aside to support healthy, affordable and sustainable food for everyone, dozens of local students, volunteers and administrators turned out to St. Margaret of Scotland Church Oct. 24.

That’s when 63 students joined with volunteers from Shorewood Kiwanis and the Macomb County Health Department to package 10,000 meals for Kids Against Hunger in an event sponsored by Shorewood Kiwanis.

The meals are a specially formulated blend of long-grain white rice, vitamin-fortified crushed soy, a dehydrated blend of six vegetables and a chicken-flavored vegetarian vitamin and mineral powder. They can be made just by adding 6-10 cups of boiling water and provide easily digestible nutrients needed by a malnourished child’s mind and body. Each bag of food feeds six adults or 12 children.

Shorewood Kiwanis board member Kim Browning said Macomb County reached out to the group for help in organizing volunteers for the Kids Against Hunger packaging event. Kids Against Hunger is a nonprofit organization working to end childhood hunger.

“When they (Macomb County) decided they were going to be needing assistance … they called us,” Browning said.

She said students from all three St. Clair Shores school districts stepped up to get involved with the event.

“It is a fabulous way to get the kids involved,” she said, adding that one of the goals of Kiwanis is to “inspire children into service-oriented projects and leadership roles.” By partaking in the Kids Against Hunger packaging event, she said she hoped they would do just that.

The 10,000 meals were paid for through proceeds from the Harper Charity Cruise, Kiwanis annual Wild Game Dinner and nut sales; it cost $3,000 to pay for the supplies for that many meals.

Once they were done, one-third of the meals were kept for the St. Margaret food pantry, one-third went to the hungry in other areas of the United States and the rest were sent to hungry children in other countries.

“When you travel these Third World countries, it’s unbelievable what you see,” said Shorewood Kiwanis vice president Peter McInnes. “Believe it or not, we have the exact same problems here as they have in Third World countries. We wish we could do more.”

Lake Shore High School Principal Joe DiPonio said, as a school, they have embraced three things: academic excellence, extracurricular excellence and service to others.

“We try to rally as much as possible to think of others and do things for others,” he said.

Macomb County Health Department Director William Ridella said the county wanted to place an emphasis on National Food Day this year. In addition to the KAH event, the Macomb County Community Services Agency collected food to benefit the Macomb Food Program, and the Michigan State University Extension (MSUE) office in Macomb County demonstrated container vegetable gardening at the Center Line office of the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program throughout the day, as well.

“There’s some people that don’t have access to food on a regular basis,” Ridella said. Setting aside a day to do something about that, he said, brings awareness of that fact to others. “I think it really comes together quite well.”

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