Pupils at Heritage Elementary School have been partnering with the Saline Kiwanis for an annual Kids Coalition Against Hunger project for seven years, but 2019 marked the largest effort in the history of the school's participation, with more than $10,000 raised and about 32,000 meals packaged in the gymnasium at Liberty School on Friday, May 31.
Parents and other volunteers managed the pupils who created and sealed the food packets, which will be distributed to charities both close to home and around the world. Each packet can be mixed with 6 cups of boiling water and will provide a nutritionally-balanced meal for six adults or 12 children, according to Michael Burwell, CEO of Kids Coalition Against Hunger.
Heritage social worker Joel Benedek serves as organizer of the event each year and says it's an event that helps hungry people while giving pupils a hands-on lesson in being charitable.
"It fits in with our Saline Area Schools compass, especially the points about being globally connected and being an ethical and responsible citizen," Benedek says. "The whole process aligns well with that."
Walmart, the Marzetti Company, CP Federal Credit Union, the Foundation for Saline Area Schools, and the Saline Kiwanis provided funds for about half the cost. Pupils raised the other half during a “Chew for Charity” district-wide fundraiser where students could pay to be allowed to chew gum, as well as a fundraising student-staff basketball game. National Honor Society Students, students from the alternative education program, PTO members, and parents all helped with the effort as well.
Many of the packets were picked up by volunteers from Washtenaw County-based nonprofit Food Gatherers, but other packets will be held in reserve for disaster relief and other emergencies around the world. Burwell noted that KCAH recently began working in Yemen, which is home to more than 270,000 refugees and asylum seekers, and some of the food prepared in Saline may end up there, feeding the hungry.
See the slideshow below for more shots of Heritage pupils in action.