The Rotary Club of Wakefield recently participated in a project with End Hunger New England to prepare, pack and pay for 30,000 meals. Members of the Rotary Club joined a team of over 70 Rotarians, friends and family at the Non-Profit Center in Boston on an early Saturday morning in May. The project started at 7:30 am when Rotarians brought the production line and raw materials from curb side on South Street up to the second floor where the event was held. Matthew Martin, the area director for Outreach, Inc., parent company of End Hunger New England, provided a brief overview of their mission and instructions on how to maximize the process. Rotarians Alicia Reddin, Judy Gordon, Mario Portillo, Dave Fionda and Kathy Boyle represented the Wakefield Club.
As part of the Rotary District 7930’s Conference and Assembly, the project funded the first 10,000 fortified macaroni and cheese meals. Project Coordinator and Stoneham Rotarian David Gardner explained, “It was up to those in attendance to package those meals as well as fund the additional meals to reach our goal of 30,000 meals. As the meals were packaged and the results reported, the donations began. Peabody Rotary began with an initial donation of $500 and Stoneham, Topsfield/Boxford/Middleton Rotary, Wakefield Rotary, and Winchester Rotary followed suit with matching pledges.” An additional $1,750 was donated personally by volunteers during project. By the end, with the final pledge of $250 from the Rotary District, the project fully funded the 30,000 meals.
Already, the delivery process has begun with meals being delivered to our local community food pantries and outreach centers. Rotary District Governor David Manzi noted, “We’re well aware that many people in our communities are just a paycheck away from needing their local pantry. It’s been our honor to begin our Homelessness and Hunger Initiative this year and seemed appropriate that we spend some time during our conference in service to others.” Wakefield Rotary Club member Mario Portillo added, “This is why I became a Rotarian. There was such a great feeling working beside friends to produce something that was going to help so many.” Already, the Wakefield Interfaith Food Pantry has received over 700 meals from the project.