CAMDEN — Seventy-five West Bay Rotary volunteers packed over 25,000 meals on Oct. 26 to bring to area food pantries as part of Meals of Hope.
Mike Moore, a West Bay summer member from the Naples North Rotary club and West Bay Rotarian Etienne Perret discussed holding a community service project that could involve other local Rotary clubs. Mike has worked with Meals of Hope in Naples and they both thought it was a perfect event to hold in the Midcoast. The club agreed and the event was planned.
Meals of Hope was founded by Naples Rotarian Steve Popper in 2007. Bobbi Bird, who is also a Rotarian and works for Meals of Hope, trained members of West Bay to lead the volunteers. According to Bobbi, Meals of Hope recently surpassed 60 million meals packed. Although she and others travel all over the country, the meals that are packed always stay locally.
The mission of Meals of Hope is “Communities coming together to end hunger.” They have developed five meals with added vitamins, minerals and proteins to supplement an unbalanced diet. The cost is 25 cents per meal. West Bay Rotary committed a portion of the money needed and raised the rest of the money through donations from club members, other Rotary clubs and members of the community who donated by check or by credit card on their website.
At the suggestion of Meals of Hope, West Bay Rotary decided to pack two popular meals: pasta & tomato sauce and macaroni & cheese. Each bag packed holds six meals and each box holds 32 bags. A total of 134 boxes were packed and distributed: 20 boxes to Salvation Army, 60 boxes to AIO Food Pantry in Rockland, 52 boxes to Bread for the Journey Food Pantry in Warren, and 2 boxes to Camden Area Christian Food Pantry in Camden. Many of the boxes taken to the food pantries in Rockland and Warren will be distributed to other local food pantries.
Although the event was led by West Bay Rotary, it was truly a community event. In addition to West Bay Rotarians, members of the Camden and Rockland Rotary clubs as well as the Midcoast Interact Club participated. Friends and family of Rotarians attended and there were also a large number of community members who heard about the event and volunteered.
One such volunteer said, “I couldn’t afford to donate to help, but I love that I could come and help in other ways”.
Each time volunteers completed a box, they yelled out a cheer of excitement. Just 70 minutes and 134 cheers after the event began, all the boxes were packed. The volunteers left happy and many wondered when the next packing event would take place. According to several West Bay Rotarians, they are so appreciate of all the volunteers and community support and are looking forward to working with Meals of Hope to have more meal packing events.
West Bay Rotary can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For club information or to make a donation, go to westbayrotaryofmaine.org. Follow the club on Facebook for information about all upcoming events at facebook.com.