To kick off 2019 CALS Week at Iowa State, the Block and Bridle Club partnered with Meals from the Heartland to package 50,000 meals Monday.
Students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences gathered at the Farm Bureau Pavilion in Kildee Hall where they volunteered their time to package the meals.
As students filed in, they put on hair nets, sanitized their hands, put on gloves and got to their stations. Assembly lines of eight to nine students formed around tables to start putting the meals together.
Each table had boxes filled with different ingredients, scales, bag seals and packing boxes. Every student at the tables had a specific job at the tables, from filling the bags with rice, soy, vitamins, and veggies to sealing and placing the bags in boxes.
Meals from the Heartland is a non-profit organization that was started in West Des Moines in 2007. Georgie Filber, warehouse and hunger fight manager at Meals from the Heartland, monitored the whole event and helped the students reach their 50,000 meal goal.
“What we are packaging today is our Hearty Packs, made up of four main ingredients; rice, soy, vitamins and veggies,” Filber said.
The ingredients used in these meals and the packaging is all made in the United States. The soy, meal bags and boxes are all made in Iowa and the remaining ingredients are from surrounding states.
Each meal bag contains 6 servings in it. Students packaged 36 bags per box, which ends up being 216 meals in each box. At the end of the day, Iowa State students helped package 232 boxes to send out to various locations to help fight world hunger.
Lexie Kliegl, junior in agronomy, attended the event for about an hour and contributed her efforts to package meals with fellow students.
“I’m part of the Block and Bridle Club here, and this is an event that we put on every year,” Kliegl said. “I started coming as a freshman, and it’s just a tradition that I come, and I’ve done Meals from the Heartland since I was really little, so it’s nice to come and still do that in college as well.”
Kliegl said she and the students she worked with went through different rotations. She started with measuring and weighing the bags and later helped scoop the rice into the bags.
Filber said packaging meals through Meals from the Heartland is important because the event brings different groups of people together, establishes teamwork and builds community through serving others.
“We’ve sent our meals over the course of our history to over 30 different countries,” Filber said. “We have two focuses when we distribute our meals. One is disaster relief [...] and we distribute meals at schools, churches, feeding centers and orphanages.”
Just a few weeks ago, Meals from the Heartland sent 285,000 packaged meals to the Bahamas for Hurrican Dorian relief.
“I think when we as people serve other people, it does something inside of us,” Filber said. “I think it’s what we are designed to do.”