Bucks Knocks Out Hunger was this past Friday at Delaware Valley College, and it was an amazing morning! Over 600 volunteers helped pack 100,200 meals of rice and beans and macaroni and cheese in just three hours! All meals will go to local food pantries.
The event was made possible by all the hard work of the UW Bucks team and our awesome partners Bucks County Opportunity Council, Bucks County Housing Group, Rolling Harvest Food Rescue, Delaware Valley College, Outreach, Inc. and sponsor First Federal of Bucks County.
The event began at 6 AM on Friday morning, as the dried meals of rice and beans and macaroni and cheese filled the front of the auditorium as industrial bags of ingredients. Table assistants arrived to set up the room and learn the process of meal packing, to later instruct their table of volunteers.
Starting at 8 AM, the giant bags of raw materials were distributed between the 20 tables of approximately 12 volunteers, thanks to Del Val football players and strong members of the UW Bucks team. Meal packers combined the ingredients in the correct portions through an assembly line – first macaroni, then soy, then cheese packet and seal, or rice, then beans, spices and seal. Each meal costs only 25 cents to package, thanks to Outreach, Inc and the help of our volunteers.
Packing was done in two 90-minute shifts of over 250 volunteers. Each shift packed approximately 50,000 meals, which were immediately boxed and picked up by pantries all over Bucks County.
Volunteers included meal packers, table assistants, the #BKOHunger Twitter corps, photographers and even a DJ. Volunteers of all ages filled in the assembly lines, with the youngest being a 10 month old strapped to his mother’s back. Kids and adults had a great time packing meals, dancing to the music and spending time helping the community with their friends, family, or coworkers.
“There was a lot of positive energy in the room,” said volunteer Kathryn Stankiewicz, “It was a feeling of instant gratification to know that the meals were going right to the pantries and feeding people as soon as tonight.”
Volunteers also worked in the fields of Delaware Valley’s Hope of The Harvest, a 3 and a half acre charitable farm that provides produce to local pantries and Philabundance. These volunteers spent a few hours pulling weeds, planting crops or picking produce throughout the day.
We received support from across the county for BKO Hunger. A huge thank you goes out to First Federal of Bucks County, who was the premium sponsor for Bucks Knocks Out Hunger 2014, donating $10,000, and our media partners for the event, the Intelligencer and Bucks County Courier Times.
BKO Hunger also had several “Super Heavyweight” sponsors who donated $2,000 and provided a table full of volunteers. These included Cummins, Inc., GE Water, PECO, National Penn, Lockheed Martin, Sesame Place, and Catherine McElroy of Bucks County Women’s Initiative. Jennifer Dredge of Cummins also raised $2,200 for the event through her friends and family and brought a table full of volunteers, including her three daughters, with her.
UW Bucks is still in need of donations to Bucks Knocks Out Hunger. Our current funds are enough to provide the prepackaged meals, but we need additional support to provide the full 30,000 pounds of produce to those in need. Donations can be made online, via check (made out to United Way of Bucks County, sent to 413 Hood Blvd, Fairless Hills with BKO Hunger in the subject line) or dropped off at any Bucks County Univest location.
About the contributor: Katie Pilot is the Marketing Associate at the United Way of Bucks County. Originally from New Hampshire, she is a recent graduate of Villanova University. She enjoyed the past four years in the suburbs of Philadelphia so much that she happily decided to stay in the area following her May 2014 graduation.