Two Waupaca High School juniors organized a food drive which will provide the equivalent of 390,000 meals.
Members of the Waupaca FFA chapter, Morgan Eilers and Nicole Jacowski raised $10,000 as part of the Kids Against Hunger campaign.
Based in Minnesota, the non-profit Kids Against Hunger provides the ingredients for a high-protein, fortified casserole that includes rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables and protein powder.
Volunteers combine and put the ingredients into individual 390-gram packages which can feed up to six people.
Eilers and Jacowski, with the help of other students and volulnteers from the community, prepared and boxed 65,000 packages on Monday, Feb. 25, at the high school gym.
Kids Against Hunger will give 40,000 packages to Ruby’s Pantry, which provides food for families in Wisconsin and Minnesota and has a distribution site in Waupaca.
The other 25,000 packages will be sent to feed families in Liberia.
Eilers, who is the Waupaca FFA chapter president, became aware of Kids Against Hunger while attending a national leadership conference in Washington, D.C., last summer.
One activity there involved a meal where 150 students shared 10 plates of rice and beans.
“I was part of a group that helped pack food for Kids Against Hunger,” Eilers said. “We made community service plans at the conference. My community service plan involved the Kids Against Hunger project.”
“Morgan and I are best friends. When she said she needed help with the project I said yes without knowing what it was,” Jacowski said. “Now, it’s kind of my baby.”
When Eilers and Jacowski initially contacted Kids Against Hunger, they were told they were too young to organize a project.
However, instead of being discouraged, they made numerous calls, looking for a chapter within the national organization which would help them.
Eventually, they made contact with the Rock County Rotary in Janesville, which is part of the Kids Against Hunger network.
The Rotarians in Rock County were willing to work with the teens.
Eilers and Jacowski began raising funds in November 2012 by sending out approximately 150 letters to local businesses and civic groups.
They spoke to Waupaca Rotary and to other students.
They raised funds and organized volunteers.
“We originally planned to raise $3,000,” Jacowski recalled. “When we reached that goal, we decided to raise $5,000. We never expected to raise $10,000.”
On Monday, more than 120 volunteers filled the Waupaca High School gym, putting ingredients into the packages and placing the packages into boxes.
“It’s been great because so many people in the community have donated to the project or volunteered,” Jacowski said.
Eilers said she hopes the Waupaca FFA chapter or other community groups continue the project after they graduate.