NEW TAMPA – Following months of planning, the event fell into place just as planned. And the end result was even better than organizers envisioned.
Rotary Feeds America, a Rotary Club of New Tampa sponsored project to help feed the hungry throughout the greater Tampa area, yielded 27, 465 meal packets in a matter of one hour and 17 minutes on a recent Saturday morning.
Because each packet provided four meals, according to New Tampa Rotarian Connie Bladon, the end result equaled a total of 109,860 meals.
Chairman Gene Perez beamed as he reported the effort surpassed its goal of assembling 25,000 packets or 100,000 meals within a two-hour span.
“I am so proud of our club and everybody else involved,” Perez said. “It’s just a very worthwhile cause.”
Seed money of $2,500, donated by the Rotary Club and a matching grant from the DeBartolo Family Foundation, helped kickoff the project in the cafeteria at Freedom High School, where some 120 volunteers gathered.
New Tampa Rotarians, members of the University of South Florida’s Rotaract Club; students from Freedom’s Interact Club and school’s NJROTC program; plus volunteers from Jesuit High School were among the host of helpers who assembled the nutritionally balanced meals.
Meals of Hope, a multistate nonprofit charitable organization, supplied the food and Feeding America Tampa Bay transported them to its network of food banks, including Metropolitan Ministries.
Tampa City Councilwoman Lisa Montelione was also among those who turned out to do their part. She was involved in a similar food packing event held a couple of years ago during a Rotary district conference.
“I wanted to help out again,” she said. “It’s a great thing when you think about how many people will be fed.”
New Tampa Rotarian Lesley Zajac said she finds it heartbreaking that so many people go hungry, especially those who live among us.
“That’s why this project is so great,” she said. “It helps so many and it brings so many groups all together.”
Joyce McKenzie can be reached at [email protected]