Volunteers package thousands of meals in Yellow Springs

About 60 children and adults helped prepare meals at the First Presbyterian Church in Yellow Springs Thursday Dec. 27, 2018. The goal of the event, hosted by Kid Scouts Inc. and Hunger Van, was to prepare 10,000 meals that will be distributed to people in need. RICHARD WILSON/STAFF
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About 60 children and adults helped prepare meals at the First Presbyterian Church in Yellow Springs Thursday Dec. 27, 2018. The goal of the event, hosted by Kid Scouts Inc. and Hunger Van, was to prepare 10,000 meals that will be distributed to people in need. RICHARD WILSON/STAFF

A group of about 60 children and adults in Yellow Springs recently volunteered to package thousands of ready-to-cook meals that will be delivered to those in need.

In about two hours, the group worked on an assembly line combining pre-cooked quinoa, rice, lentils, cumin and pink Himalayan salt into bags that were sealed and packed into containers. Their efforts resulted in 10,000 meals being prepared, according to the organizers.

The unique event is the result of a partnership between nonprofit organizations Kids Scouts and Hunger Van.

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Kids Scouts was created as a non-gender alternative to traditional scouting programs, which do not have a lot of community service opportunities for children under 12, according to Jessica Yamamoto, founder of Kids Scouts who recently relocated with her family from Florida to the Greene County village.

Yamamoto said Kids Scouts is focused on giving children community service opportunities, and they plan to partner with Hunger Van and open a headquarters in Yellow Springs.

“We decided this year, in 2019, we’re going to expand and we’re going to work with Hunger Van to be a part of every community that they’re apart of and give kids all over the world the opportunity to volunteer,” Yamamoto said.

Hunger Van, a project under the national nonprofit organization Muslims Against Hunger, is in 20 cities and seven countries, including India, Pakistan and Nigeria.

Hunger Van Founder Zamir Hassan said his organization is about educating and engaging people to get involved.

“I use hunger as an issue to bring people together. There is no reason in our country, we have 49 million people who do not know where they are going to get their next meal,” Hassan said. “We are the richest country on the planet. There is no reason to have that problem here.”

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Those who volunteered were given the opportunity to take as many of the sealed bags of ingredients as they wanted to give to people they know may need the food.

Hassan said in addition to the hungry people on the streets, older people who are living on fixed incomes are also vulnerable to not having enough food.

“If one of the partners passes, the second person still has to pay the same rent, the same utility bill, and they are on fixed income. They are going hungry and no one talks about it,” he said.

Hassan said he’s excited about working with Kids Scouts in Yellow Springs.

“We bring the Hunger Van program to your place. It could be at your house … It takes about six volunteers. In about one and a half hours, you can make 100 bags, that’s 1,000 meals.”

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