Food fight: Kids (and others) take on hunger

    The recent Kids Against Hunger event at Wyneken Memorial Lutheran School north of Decatur brought together 224 people from Adams, Allen, Wells, and Van Wert counties who turned 8,000 pounds of food into 53,000 meal packages in just one day.
    The weight of all the food was nearly four tons, according to Event Coordinator Joe Gorman.
    The meals will be divided in the following manner: about 29,000 to five food banks in Adams County, more than 15,600 to the African nation of Sierra Leone, almost 5,100 to the Wells County Food Pantry, and more than 3,200 to the food pantry at St. Joseph Catholic Church at Hessen Cassel of southern Allen County.
    The local food banks that will get the packaged meals are Compassionate Ministries/Project Share in Berne, Monroe United Methodist Church, the Geneva Proud Pantry, Decatur Church of God, and St. Mark's United Methodist Church in Decatur.
    The first Kids Against Hunger meal-making activity was held in November of 2009 and the next one will be in 12 to 18 months, Gorman said.
    Eight lines of volunteers, with 12 people in each line, were formed at the school last weekend to pack and then to carry the meals to food bank trucks parked at the school. They worked in two shifts.
    The workers, ages 8 to 80, came from numerous churches plus the three school systems in Adams County, local businesses, and a 4-H club. Overall, people from some 20 entities participated in the packing and loading processes, people from Adams, Allen, and Wells Counties (along with a few from Van Wert County in Ohio). 
    The day began at 7:15 on Saturday morning when Kevin Lengerich, director of Bellmont Campus Life, recruited students to help set up the tables and move almost four tons of dry ingredients into place so they were ready for the 9 o’clock morning shift of 100--plus workers.
    Organizers received more than $12,500 this year, including $3,500 from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. Gorman said, "We are very grateful for all the community support. Without the financial support, we would not have been able to sponsor the event and, without the many willing hands, the day would not have gone nearly as well.
    "It was especially gratifying to have so many local churches help us make this day such a success. As Christians, we are encouraged to 'feed the hungry' and, with the help of the entire community, we did just that."
    People can track the meal packets that are heading to Sierra Leone by going to and clicking on “Follow the Food.”  Put in the event name (Wyneken) and the date (April 16) and pictures will be posted as the food is distributed to those in need.