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Kids Against Hunger at Grinnell

By Leah Lucas

Kids Against Hunger (KAH), an organization that aims to eradicate world hunger, has a strong presence both on the Grinnell College campus and in the larger community.

Grinnellians are known for their propensity towards social justice, both near and far. To support this fact, over 65 percent of the members of the class of 2015 were involved in community service prior to attending Grinnell. However time-consuming the demands of college, students volunteer with organizations on campus and in the local community dedicated to the common good. Kids Against Hunger (KAH) is one such organization, which according to the organization’s website, strives “to significantly reduce the number of hungry children in the USA and to feed starving children throughout the world.”

Kids Against Hunger has 86 satellite offices around the country, four of which are located in Iowa. According to the Kids Against Hunger website, each local chapter recruits and organizes volunteers in the community to collect and package food to be sent around the globe.

Martin Minelli, Chemistry, is a member of the Kids Against Hunger Board, and noted the versatility of the organization.

“This food does not only go overseas, but also is distributed around the United States following natural disasters, to places like Joplin, Missouri, and even to areas of Iowa,” said Minelli.

Crystal DeNeve, another member of the Board and member of St. Mary’s Parish, remarked on the importance of domestic assistance as well as the nutritional value of the food.

“Even America is a place that is in need of emergency food aid today,” DeNeve said. “These meals have been specially formulated to help people recover from starvation, with the proper blend of vitamins and nutrients.”

The packing days for Kids Against Hunger in Grinnell take place on specified Sunday afternoons at St. Mary’s Religious Education Center. Each day there are approximately 12 to 14, 12-member packing teams for a 45-minute timeslot, which allows for about 20,000 meals to be packed each day. The teams of Grinnell students often pack their boxes at the same time as community groups, which allows for strong relationships to be made between college students and community members.

“You get to know and interact with people in town which is a really awesome experience,” said Mike Bogard ’12, the Campus Coordinator for Kids Against Hunger.

The packing process is open to anybody who has an interest in working with Kids Against Hunger.

“Many churches have teams, in addition to some local businesses, school sports teams, and even neighborhoods have gotten a packing team together,” DeNeve said. “The Grinnell KAH unit has packaged 61,344 meals in 2011 and 408,682 meals altogether since we started KAH in October 2006.”

Claire Tseng ’14, an active volunteer with KAH, will take Bogard’s place as Campus Coordinator next year, a position she looks forward to.

“It is a really good opportunity to be a part of something that extends far beyond just Grinnell, and I think that is a great part of the program that we want to emphasize,” Tseng said.

The upcoming packing day on Feb. 12,  has all the Grinnell College team’s positions filled. However, there is one more packing day on April 22, for which interested volunteers can contact Bogard or Tseng to reserve a spot.

“You can do something good and have fun too,” Minelli said.

Bogard explained the far-reaching impact of contributing to the organization. A donation of $1 can feed 40 children with Kids Against Hunger.

“Perhaps the biggest takeaway from my four years with Kids Against Hunger is learning how many lives we can save by donating our time, energy, and money toward a common goal,” Bogard said.

If you would like to make a monetary contribution to Kids Against Hunger, please send donations in an envelope entitled “KAH,” to Bogard’s school mailbox, # 3115. You can also deliver donations personally to Tseng or Bogard.

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