Heaping helping of hope

Heaping helping of hope

ASHLAND It was a bit of a party atmosphere at Greenup County High School, when students and other volunteers got together to assemble meals to be distributed throughout the community.

There was music, bells ringing and cheers when a box of meals was completed and sealed.

There also was a sense of community.

“It’s a good cause, to help people,” Chase Adkins, a senior at the school, said. “It makes you feel good about yourself because you’re helping others.”

Food came from Meals of Hope, a Florida-based food-packing agency with the goal of helping communities to feed residents with nutritious meals.

Social studies teacher Jill Armstrong, who is the advisor of the social studies honor society Rho Kappa, said she heard about Meals of Hope when attending a conference. She worked on bringing it to the school along with Carrie Davis, who advises the school’s Future Farmers of America chapter. They got in touch with Meals of Hope and it was a matter of time — and fundraising.

Armstrong said she’s not sure what the final total of their fundraising efforts was, but more than $9,000, and likely more than $10,000, was raised.

“What’s left over we will keep for the next time,” Armstrong said, noting she hopes the project will become a regular fixture at the school. “It averages out to 27 cents a meal.”

Schools in Greenup had “quarter wars” to raise money, managed by Greenup County High School’s student council with advisor Kameron Greenslate; winners were treated to treats from Chick-fil-A after students raised more than $3,000.

Meals of Hope offers five meal options. Armstrong said they chose pasta with tomato sauce.

“They have what they call a protein powder. It would almost remind you of uncooked oats,” Armstrong said. “You put it in the sauce to help supplement an unbalanced diet.”

Meals of Hope brought the supplies to the school, which arranged 12 tables in an assemby-line-style setup, which Armstrong said was extremely efficient.

“Student table leaders showed those at their tables how to do it,” she said, noting there were about 140 volunteers and the meals were packed for distribution in less than two hours.

“It was the most unreal experience ever,” Armstrong said. “It was fun. It didn’t really feel like work, and you know your work is going to help someone in the area. It might be someone you’re sitting in class with or someone you ride the bus with or someone you walk past in the mall.”

She said there were plans to package meals before the COVID-19 pandemic hit; the restrictions put it on hold, but she said she stayed in contact with Meals of Hope and once restrictions were loosed, they got back at it.

Meals went to a variety of destinations: churches, youth service centers and Armstrong said she believes Facing Hunger received some.

Meals of Hope typically gives $800 to organizations that raise $12,000; Greenup County High School was short by about $2,000, but Meals of Hope decided to give $400 in memory of Madison Blair, the 18-year-old student and Future Farmers of America member who was killed in a car accident in April.

“I’m so proud of our students and our district and the businesses that contributed so much more than we expected,” she said, adding the sense of community, service and leadership students gained by participating was invaluable. “We’re overwhelmed and grateful.”

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