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Larger home allows hunger program to expand

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An organization moved into a new building on the southside last year and expects to feed more people in need.

Last year, Kids Against Hunger sent 1.6 million meals around the world, including to survivors of the typhoon that hit the Philippines in November, food pantries and other service organizations that feed people in the U.S. and abroad.

This year, the organization has gotten enough word-of-mouth referrals from churches and companies to recruit more volunteer workers and has the space for the additional volunteers to pack meals.

So, executive director Larry Moore thinks 2.4 million meals would be a low estimate for how many meals the organization can make and send this year.

The nonprofit hosts meal-packing events for churches, businesses and other groups.

The volunteers or their churches and businesses donate money to pay for the food, plastic bags, boxes and shipping.

Then the groups work together to fill plastic bags with rice, dehydrated vegetables, vitamins and protein powder.

Cases of the mix are sent to hungry people around the world.

Local groups have gotten increasingly involved, including the Greenwood Rotary Club, which hosted a magic show fundraiser for Kids Against Hunger this month. Grace United Methodist Church in Franklin has provided volunteers for several years, and SS. Francis & Clare Roman Catholic Church and school also recently began partnering with the organization to pack meals.

Kids Against Hunger relies on volunteers and the success of their packing events to draw more help, spokesman Chris Osborne said.

The churches and businesses help decide where the meals go and can opt to use them to feed people locally if they prefer, Moore said.

In 2013, 55 percent of the food went to Indiana residents, some given out at Interchurch Food Pantry of Johnson County and the Center Grove Alternative Academy Care Pantry.

Last year, Kids Against Hunger left a 2,400-square-foot building to move into a facility twice that size on Park Emerson Drive, and the space is large enough to store five times as much food as in the old building, Moore said.

The new facility also has the space to invite volunteers to the organization’s warehouse, where groups of up to 70 people can gather to mix together bags of the dry ingredients.

In the past, Kids Against Hunger was restricted to going out to churches and businesses for meal packing or to hosting volunteers in its building only in groups of up to 25 people.

The new building has given the organization the space to host more volunteers on site, with 310 people forming meal assembly lines from October through February versus the 390 who came to the old building during the first nine months of 2013.

For example, on Black Friday, the traditional day-after-Thanksgiving shopping marathon, Kids Against Hunger offered an alternative event, and 160 volunteers showed up to fill the meal bags and pack them into boxes to send to the Philippines.

So many volunteers signed up that the organization had to add a third shift to meet demand.

In 2013, about 7,000 volunteers total packed meals, and Moore expects that number to increase to around 10,000 this year.

“As we do more and more packing events, we’re exposed to more and more people and continue to expand,” Moore said.

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