Bedford Rotary Goes Back to College to Pack Food for the Hungry

Bedford Rotary Goes Back to College to Pack Food for the Hungry

Courtesy of:
April 9, 2024
Submitted by the Rotary Club of Bedford

The Rotary Club of Bedford returns to Middlesex Community College on Saturday, April 27 with “Hope for the Hungry.“ After a five-year pandemic-induced hiatus, Rotary and MCC reunite for the club’s 9th annual meal-packing event to combat food insecurity. Volunteers of all ages will team up for a fun and rewarding two-hour opportunity to assemble beans, rice, dried veggies, and seasonings into meal packages that will feed the hungry in surrounding local communities. It is a “feel good by doing good” experience for volunteering parents, children, friends, neighbors, and individuals committing a little time and energy to help people in need. Volunteer meal-packing team slots are still open. Sign up quickly and get event details at:

Like many things post-pandemic, “Hope for the Hungry” is a change-filled event with a new name. This year, the Rotary Club of Concord joins Bedford Rotary in partnering with a new meal-packing partner. Meals of Hope is a Florida-based 501c3 non-profit incorporated in 2009. Its mission – To inspire and empower communities to come together to end hunger – is the drive behind the nearly 100 million meals it has packed nationwide to date. MOH Vice President Jack Day heads the New England headquarters in Chelmsford. He says that the focus is on keeping the meals that are packed in the local community. That relates directly to the Greater Boston Food Bank 2022 survey findings that a third of the Massachusetts adult population struggles with chronic food insecurity, and one in three family households faces child food insecurity. 2024 has seen little change. When having to choose between paying housing or medical expenses vs. buying food, food is frequently shortchanged. It’s those circumstances that make Food Banks and Community Food Pantries essential resources. The Bedford Food Pantry serves about 200 households weekly. Healthy Bedford Coordinator Carla Olsen and staff manage the pantry program that gets the majority of food items from the Greater Boston Food Bank. Items are selected from a GBFB weekly availability list and delivered the following week. A cadre of regular volunteers supports the Pantry, unloading deliveries, sorting, and storing fresh and frozen foods and boxed dry goods in preparation for distribution. After “Hope for the Hungry’s” meal-packing event, a thousand-package donation of the packed meals will be added to the Bedford Pantry’s distribution inventory. Meals of Hope offers various meal-packing possibilities, including pasta and tomato sauce, oatmeal, and mac and cheese. One of the most popular is rice and beans, and that’s what will be packed on April 27. Meal-packing is a simple, step-by-step, team effort process. It begins with the funnel dump of the individual high-quality ingredients into the meal package, followed by careful package weighing and weight adjustment, package sealing, and finishing with boxing three-dozen packages per box. The combined meal ingredients are enough for six individual-serving meals per package, each costing about 32 cents. Meals of Hope New England’s goal is to pack two million meals this year. “Hope for the Hungry’s” goal is to pack 50,000 of those meals. While grant funding through Rotary and sponsor funds pays for a major part of the meal ingredients, the “Hope for the Hungry” effort relies heavily on fundraising and individual donations. A $20 donation provides a meal for more than 60 persons. Donating $50 feeds more than 150 people. A donation in any amount helps reach the goal. Donate and sign up to participate here:

Locally, in addition to the Bedford Food Pantry, The Billerica Food Pantry, Lexington Food Pantry, and the Middlesex Community College Food Pantry programs on its Bedford and Lowell campuses are in line to receive as many packed meals as they can handle. But most of the packed meals will bring “Hope to the Hungry” through the Merrimack Valley Food Bank that serves an average 70,000 people monthly through 102 emergency feeding programs in 32 cities and towns, including Lowell, Lawrence, and Haverhill.

Mitzvah Day a Runaway Success at Temple Shir Tikva in Wayland

Mitzvah Day a Runaway Success at Temple Shir Tikva in Wayland

On March 10, over 350 volunteers packed more than 33,000 meals for Meals of Hope as Mitzvah Day roared back to life for the first time since 2019.

MARCH 22, 2024

Courtesy of Jewish Boston

On a sun-splashed Sunday morning on March 10, Temple Shir Tikva partnered with Meals of Hope for its annual “Mitzvah Day” to pack 33,000 meals for individuals facing food insecurity. Well over 350 volunteers worked in groups to pack fortified beans and rice meals that were distributed within the local community through the Merrimack Valley Food Bank.

Mitzvah Day chair Amanda Glynn was thrilled with the turnout, remarking that, “Bringing the community together to further social action really reflects what Shir Tikva is all about.” Temple Shir Tikva’s cantor, Hollis Schachner, added that the day was a “wonderful morning of bringing hundreds of our community members together to put our Jewish values into action in a vibrant, meaningful, high-energy way. The intergenerational nature of the food-packing project meant that there was a role for everyone, from our youngest children to our older adults.”

Meals of Hope developed seven meals specifically designed for the American palate and added vitamins, minerals, and proteins to supplement an unbalanced diet. Food packages were designed to address the need for an economical, nutritious solution to aid in the fight against hunger. Each packet contained enough food to provide six to eight meals.

“We were excited to have the opportunity to partner with Meals of Hope to help end hunger in our community” said Leah Staffin, TST director of community engagement. “Mitzvah Day is our temple-wide community day of faith-based social action when we undertake a volunteer project to help those in need.” Beth Goldfarb, development and communications coordinator, agreed: “The energy in the room was electric with the spirit of community engagement and compassion for those less fortunate. It was a wonderful event.”

“We are thankful and appreciative of the support provided by Temple Shir Tikva to help us combat the hunger epidemic,” said Jack Day, vice president of Meals of Hope. “The Greater Boston Food Bank reports that 33% of adults in Massachusetts experienced hunger last year. These types of events make for a fun and rewarding day for the volunteers, and they help us deliver healthy meals to underserved individuals.”