Bedford Rotary Goes Back to College to Pack Food for the Hungry

Submitted by the Rotary Club of Bedford

The Rotary Club of Bedford returns to Middlesex Community College on Saturday, April 27 with “Hope for the Hungry.“

After a five-year pandemic-induced hiatus, Rotary and MCC reunite for the club’s 9th annual meal-packing event to combat food insecurity.

Volunteers of all ages will team up for a fun and rewarding two-hour opportunity to assemble beans, rice, dried veggies, and seasonings into meal packages that will feed the hungry in surrounding local communities. It is a “feel good by doing good” experience for volunteering parents, children, friends, neighbors, and individuals committing a little time and energy to help people in need.

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Volunteer meal-packing team slots are still open. Sign up quickly and get event details at

Like many things post-pandemic, “Hope for the Hungry” is a change-filled event with a new name. This year, the Rotary Club of Concord joins Bedford Rotary in partnering with a new meal-packing partner.

Meals of Hope is a Florida-based 501c3 non-profit incorporated in 2009. Its mission – To inspire and empower communities to come together to end hunger – is the drive behind the nearly 100 million meals it has packed nationwide to date.

MOH Vice President Jack Day heads the New England headquarters in Chelmsford. He says that the focus is on keeping the meals that are packed in the local community. 

That relates directly to the Greater Boston Food Bank 2022 survey findings that a third of the Massachusetts adult population struggles with chronic food insecurity, and one in three family households faces child food insecurity. 2024 has seen little change. When having to choose between paying housing or medical expenses vs. buying food, food is frequently shortchanged. It’s those circumstances that make Food Banks and Community Food Pantries essential resources.

The Bedford Food Pantry serves about 200 households weekly. Healthy Bedford Coordinator Carla Olsen and staff manage the pantry program that gets the majority of food items from the Greater Boston Food Bank. Items are selected from a GBFB weekly availability list and delivered the following week. A cadre of regular volunteers supports the Pantry, unloading deliveries, sorting, and storing fresh and frozen foods and boxed dry goods in preparation for distribution. After “Hope for the Hungry’s” meal-packing event, a thousand-package donation of the packed meals will be added to the Bedford Pantry’s distribution inventory.

Meals of Hope offers various meal-packing possibilities, including pasta and tomato sauce, oatmeal, and mac and cheese. One of the most popular is rice and beans, and that’s what will be packed on April 27.

Meal-packing is a simple, step-by-step, team effort process. It begins with the funnel dump of the individual high-quality ingredients into the meal package, followed by careful package weighing and weight adjustment, package sealing, and finishing with boxing three-dozen packages per box.

The combined meal ingredients are enough for six individual-serving meals per package, each costing about 32 cents. Meals of Hope New England’s goal is to pack two million meals this year. “Hope for the Hungry’s” goal is to pack 50,000 of those meals. 

While grant funding through Rotary and sponsor funds pays for a major part of the meal ingredients, the “Hope for the Hungry” effort relies heavily on fundraising and individual donations. A $20 donation provides a meal for more than 60 persons. Donating $50 feeds more than 150 people. A donation in any amount helps reach the goal. Donate and sign up to participate here –

Locally, in addition to the Bedford Food Pantry, The Billerica Food Pantry, Lexington Food Pantry, and the Middlesex Community College Food Pantry programs on its Bedford and Lowell campuses are in line to receive as many packed meals as they can handle.

But most of the packed meals will bring “Hope to the Hungry” through the Merrimack Valley Food Bank that serves an average 70,000 people monthly through 102 emergency feeding programs in 32 cities and towns, including Lowell, Lawrence, and Haverhill.

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