“Just in this county, there’s 86,000 hungry folks,” Matt Martin says, and “30,000 of them are children.”
In two weeks, volunteers from 12 groups, primarily from Westborough, will package 41,800 macaroni and cheese meals together toward helping fight hunger in Worcester County.
Westborough’s Good Shepherd Lutheran Church will host the event, from 1 to 5 p.m. Feb. 9. The groups are partnering with Kids Care, Outreach Inc.’s food packaging division.
The Rev. Jeffrey Goodrich, Good Shepherd’s associate pastor, says he’s finalizing the meals’ destination, but “hoping they’ll go to the Worcester County Food Bank.”
Martin, Outreach’s regional manager of New England, says that “until about two or three years ago, all the meals went overseas like every other group that does this all over the country.”
“But then they started realizing that when one out of every four American children is hungry, we don’t have to send the meals anywhere. We can hand them out in our counties. What’s emerged in the Northeast is almost every single meal stays in the county,” he says.
“So when we package 40, 50, 60,000 meals, it’s awesome. It stocks every food shelter in the area.”
Goodrich says that last February, Good Shepherd and Holliston’s Christ the King Lutheran Church partnered with Kids Care to package 13,000 meals and raise $3,250. Each meal costs 25 cents.
Goodrich then mentioned the effort to other clergy in Westborough during their interfaith meetings.
“I thought there was great potential to make it more of a community event,” he says.
Goodrich expects to see 85 people volunteering at Good Shepherd that day at one time, primarily among six assembly lines.
The project “comes out of our faith,” he says.
“We believe that when we feed the hungry, when we heal the sick, when we visit the lonely that we are seeing and experiencing the presence of Christ,” Goodrich says.
Besides Good Shepherd and Christ the King, the Feb. 9 event will include volunteers from Chapel of the Cross in Westborough; Congregation B’nai Shalom in Westborough; the Congregational Church of Westborough; the First United Methodist Church in Westborough; St. Luke’s Roman Catholic Church in Westborough; St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Westborough; the Unitarian Universalist Congregational Society of Westborough; the Westborough Freemasons Lodge; the Thrivent Financial for Lutherans – Worcester County Chapter; and Kohl’s of Northborough.