The Cockrell Elementary School gymnasium was milling with volunteers scooping, weighing and sealing bags for the second annual Kids Against Hunger meal packing event on March 23. Volunteers spent their evening at work in assembly lines to package 115 boxes with meals for children.

International volunteer organization Kids Against Hunger provides millions of meals for starving children and their families across the world. The organization runs purely on volunteer efforts and donations. The local packing events allow members of a local community to volunteer their time to aide in the packing of nutritious meals that are then sent on to those in need.

Tom Bryan from the First United Methodist Church in Allen explained how he first encountered Kids Against Hunger.

“I’m a retired dentist,” Bryan said. “I started going to Honduras in 1991 to do dental work. And we started bringing kids back to Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for medical treatment. Then we would take them back and try to get them an education, so we built a children’s home. Now we have a children’s home and a school called House of Hope.”

Bryan went on to explain how his missions to Honduras connected him with the Kids Against Hunger organization.

“We were giving kids baby’s formula because they were malnourished and they weren’t gaining weight,” Bryan said.

He explained that where formula failed, the nutrient-rich meals that were designed for Kids Against Hunger succeeded.

“So, the Allen Kiwanis Club, of which my wife is a member, started packing here four years ago,” Bryan said. “We pack food all over the North Texas area at churches and schools. We packed yesterday at the First United Methodist in Van Alstyne. We send three containers a year to Honduras. They’re 18-wheelers. About half of each container has Kids Against Hunger food. Each box has 216 meals.”

More than 26,000 meals were packed at the Prosper packing event on Sunday alone. Prosper United Methodist Church Senior Pastor, Jason McConnell, explained how Prosper became involved with the event.

“We have been doing this for five years as a church,” McConnell said. “When we got our second campus, the mission, in 2013, we started bringing it here to the school. So we have been here at the school for four years. And the Bryans are bringing the connection for us. What’s exciting is seeing that there are families that are coming back and recognizing that this becomes not just something that our church does but something that the community does. And to know that every single one of those bags is touching the lives of six people with just one bag. And knowing that we are sending cases of meals and we’re adding little notes so that when they open up the box they get to read that as well.”

There are usually between 100 and 150 volunteers at each packing event from the community. The event is designed in a way that people of all ages are able to participate, including small children. The cost of the food is 25 cents per meal. In addition to volunteering, those that want to be involved can donate to assist in the financial cost of the event as well. A payment of $5,000 pays for all of the supplies that are sent over.

“Prosper is capable of doing far more than we can do on our own,” McConnell said. “If we are able to get other organizations to partner with us and provide financial assistance, then we can do countless more than we have already been able to do in just one day. So I challenge other organizations to contact us and we can do this thing together and make this something that allows Prosper to really make an impact.”