Volunteers to pack 40,000 meals

A gathering of volunteers hopes to push back against hunger this weekend armed with rice, soy, vegetables and vitamins.

More than 100 people will meet at Franciscan St. Francis Health-Indianapolis on Saturday to put together about 40,000 meals. The hospital has partnered with Pack Away Hunger to package nutrient-rich food to benefit the hungry in central Indiana and in poor nations such as Haiti.

What started as a small project has grown threefold since it started two years ago, according to Joe Sagorsky, director of employer health solutions at the hospital and organizer of the event.

“It’s caught fire, and people are excited,” he said. “We not only have employees involved, we have spouses, their children, students from local schools who need service hours. It really is an entire community benefit.”

This will be the third year that the hospital has worked with Pack Away Hunger, the Beech Grove-based charity that delivers packages of nutritious food to those in need. The organization previously was known as Kids Against Hunger.

The organization works locally with food banks such as Gleaners and Midwest Food Bank to provide food to the hungry in Indiana. At the same time, packages are sent to Haiti and Guatemala to help the needy in those countries.

Each package contains rice, soy, vegetables and a blend of 21 nutrients, which can be prepared with nothing more than a pot, boiling water and a spoon.

Sagorsky met Pack Away Hunger executive Larry Moore in 2013 through the Greater Greenwood Chamber of Commerce, and after learning more about the organization, he felt it would be a worthy service activity for the hospital.

“We’re a mission-oriented health system, so we needed to do this,” Sagorsky said.

The first year, about 40 people packed 15,000 meals. That number has grown every year the hospital has participated in the event. Volunteers at the hospital and their families will work in stations at the hospital’s Education and Support Services Center to put the meal packages together.

Sagorsky has been encouraged by the enthusiasm people have for the service day. His hope is that they can do even more to help next year.

“People start spreading the word that they’ve done it, and when you walk out of there, you feel good,” he said. “It’s a small token to people who are really hurting.”

Ryan Trares is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at rtrares@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2727.