Volunteers pack 200,000 meals for West Michigan families in need

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich - Hundreds of volunteers packaged 200,000 free meals at Van Andel Arena Wednesday for families in need at the second annual "Food From The Heart" event.

The event was hosted by the Heart of West Michigan United Way and Feeding America West Michigan in an effort to combat hunger in the community.

Ken Estelle, President and CEO of Feeding America West Michigan, believes the need is so great that someone you know could be struggling with food scarcity.

"Today we have 73,000 people just in Kent Co. that don’t know where their next meal is coming from," Estelle said.

Wednesday,  volunteers turned their assembly line into a food packing patry, packing both breakfast and dinner options on 38 tables with 12 volunteers each. After four hours on the packing line, 200,000 meals were packed, shipped, and distributed to local food pantries.

Hunger threatens one in eight people in West Michigan, and one in five children, according to Feeding America's 'Map the Meal' gap study.

Michelle Van Dyke, President and CEO of Heart of West Michigan United Way, said the need is even greater in the summer since many children rely on schools for their meals.

"If you’re in need, go to your local food pantries and they’ll have access to these meals through Feeding America," Van Dyke said.

The packing party only lasted a couple of hours but made a lasting impression on the community for months to come.

You can help fight hunger by donating your time or money. You can also text to donate by texting 'meals' to 40403.

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