Success by the numbers: Simpson packages 32,400 meals in four hours

Four hours.

A total of 185 volunteers.

And 32,400 meals packaged for Meals from the Heartland.

That’s success, Simpson-style.

Organizers were thrilled by the College community’s enthusiastic response to the Meals from the Heartland Mobile Hunger Fight, held on Jan. 21 to help commemorate the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Great Hall at Simpson was transformed into a meal-packaging assembly line. Teams of volunteers worked on eight tables in hour-long shifts, scooping, weighing and packaging food that will help feed the hungry.

“This is amazing,” said Mike Frandsen, a staff member for the West Des Moines-based Meals from the Heartland. “Colleges like Simpson have the energy to do it and the stamina to do it and within just a few hours they can package more than 30,000 meals. It does make a difference.”

Jorie Landers, Simpson’s service coordinator who helped organize the event, said she was gratified that the volunteers included representatives from every campus population, including students, faculty, staff members, administrators and athletic teams.

Nick Starr, a sophomore from Avoca, said the event represented one of the best aspects of being a Simpson student.

“I really like giving back to the community, so I figured it was a good way to get involved,” he said. “I liked it because I was able to do it with my peers. It was a good time for fellowship and to really focus.”

Frandsen said the great majority of meals are shipped overseas, but they also serve a need in central Iowa. Meals from the Heartland provides food to the Iowa Homeless Shelter, Iowa Food Bank, Des Moines Area Religious Council and Boys and Girls Clubs.

“Talk to people who have been hungry and have eaten it themselves,” he said. “It does go a long way.”

Landers said the event was worthwhile for several reasons.

“One, we’re supporting a local non-profit,” she said. “I think it also just educates students on what is happening elsewhere in the world. There are people without food.

“One thing I think is really neat about this particular organization is that they send meals to places in Iowa, in the United States and globally. For students to know they are helping not just that hungry kid in Africa but that hungry kid next door, I think that’s really important.”

Meals from the Heartland hopes to package 10 million meals this year in Iowa. The goal was for Simpson to contribute 30,000 meals, but the college surpassed that by 2,400.

“I’m very proud of the College,” Landers said. “I think it was a great way to honor the memory of the Rev. King and to show what Simpson is all about.”


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