AUDUBON – On Jan. 16, the Audubon FFA hosted a school wide meal-packaging event involving every fifth through 12th grade student. This was the second year that the Audubon FFA has hosted a meal-packaging event for students in the middle and high school.

“We are truly grateful for the ongoing support of the Audubon FFA and the many volunteers that gave of their time and talent. To see so many come together for a common cause, to feed hungry people all over the world, is a sight to behold!” said Mike Frandsen, Heartland Hunger Fight Manager.

Audubon FFA President, Tyler Tessman said, “After traveling to Haiti this past winter – projects like this just make sense. The need for food is real and being able to provide a warm nutritious meal to those in need is so worth it.”

FFA Member Hannah Thygesen added, “It was pretty cool to involve our entire school and not just FFA members in a Living to Serve project that teaches the importance of volunteerism and so much more.”

The Audubon FFA committee of Hannah Thygesen, Kate Tessman and Aleah Hermansen were very pleased with the event and are excited to continue this project in the years to come. The committee will also be preparing a video highlighted the packaging event for an FFA Hunger Champion Challenge. The results will be given at the State FFA Convention. Last year, the Audubon FFA won the state challenge.

In preparation for this event, committee members met with all fifth grade students as they were new to the project. The team presented the fifth graders with a poverty simulation that showed the number of those in need throughout the world. Students learned why events like Meals from the Heartland are so important to countries in poverty like Haiti which holds a special place in the hearts of the Audubon FFA Chapter. Kate Tessman says, “The simulation was well received by the students and we are excited they had the opportunity to take part and be educated on needs of others and learn just how fortunate they are.”

The committee combined grades for the packaging event pairing the fifth grade with Seniors, sixth grade with Juniors, seventh grade with Freshmen and eighth grade with the Sophomores. Aleah Hermansen said, “It was great to see the grades interacting and working together for a common goal.”

While each group worked, about 8,000 meals were packaged in about 30 minutes! Last year the Audubon event packaged 25,000 meals and this year the chapter increased their goal to 35,000 meals and ended the day with a total of 35,208 meals prepared.

Audubon students packaged what is called a Hearty Pack. The Hearty Pack meals contain rice, soy protein, dried vegetables, vitamins and minerals. The meals were formulated by a nutritionist to be accepted by many cultures around the world and by those who are malnourished. When cooked in boiling water, the rice expands, the soy adds protein and the dried vegetables and vitamin powder provide additional micro-nutrients that are needed. Each meal package includes six servings.

Each meal costs 20 cents for an event total of $7,000. The Audubon FFA sponsored this event with funds raised for their “Living to Serve” efforts. They also received $1,000 towards the event as the State Champions of the 2019 Hunger Champion Challenge and a Youth Assistance Grant of $3,5000. The Gray United Methodist Church donated money to package 250 meals.

Meals from the packaging event will be distributed to children’s feeding initiatives all throughout the world as part of Meals from the Heartland’s commitment to feed those who are most vulnerable as well as staying local food pantries. To learn more about how you can become involved in a mobile hunger fight please contact Mike Frandsen at 515-473-9530 or at Mike.frandsen@mealsfromtheheartland.org

About Meals from the Heartland

Established in 2008, Meals from the Heartland empowers people to save the starving, focused on both feeding people and giving people a heart for volunteering and giving back to their communities. Meals from the Heartland distributes millions of meals in Iowa, across the United States, and internationally. The non-profit organization’s food products are not donated, relying entirely on charitable donations to buy the food packaged for meals. For more information, please visit www.mealsfromtheheartland.org.