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Hope Rotarians pack and send out 10,000 meals to local food pantries

Rotary Club members, volunteers and students from Hope High’s Air Force Jr. ROTC program helped pack rice and bean meals Thursday in their usual meeting room.

The usual meeting time for the Hope Rotary Club was taken up Thursday morning, and then some, with the manufacture, packing and sending out of meals for local families in need.

Any food service pro entering the club’s meeting space Thursday would have been impressed by the efficiency and the cleanliness with which about 20 club members, along with 13 students in Hope High School’s Air Force Jr. ROTC program and a few volunteers turned big, separate bags of dry red beans, rice and spices into a large foil pouch of Louisiana-style Red Beans and Rice that could feed six and was counted as six meals.

Bringing the ingredients, the containers and the all-important funnel for blending rice, beans and spices was Grant Clemens from The Pack Shack who said the organization, based in Cave Springs, Arkansas, “brings thousands of people together to pack hundreds of thousands of meals for people in need. So we host these crazy, fun feed-the-funnel parties to pack meals for people in need. It’s a really great time. We do this all over the US,” he said.

He was not kidding about the party craziness. As serious work continued at several tables, a stomach-high speaker boomed with songs by Black Eyed Peas and Kool and the Gang. For eclecticism’s sake, it even played some John Denver. At various points when a new total meal count produced by the assemblage was read, one of the packers, including this reporter, got to bang a respectably-sized gong.

At the 12:30 mark, the Rotarians and ROTCers hit their 10,000 meal goal. The gong was hit three resonant times.

Clay Lance, past president of the Hope Rotary Club said today’s event was a unique one in its history that had been planned over several months. “We had some additional funds. And so we wanted to do something extra for the community.  We’ve got a list of projects that we already do, but this is something brand new. And it’s something that we can contribute locally and spread it across all kinds of people.”

Receiving the food will be the two food banks from Hope High School and University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana, The Call, Hope in Action I and II, Hope Connections, Prescott FoodShare, Our Lady of Good Hope, St. John’s Hispanic Church of the Nazarene and Chris Espinoza, LPC.

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