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Hunger Relief Event Honors Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service

January 11, 2016
Otterbein University

Service project is part of Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service;
University also will host public lecture on Jan. 20

Westerville, OH – Hunger is a serious problem for some families in Franklin County, Ohio. Many school-age and college students also struggle with hunger. The Center for Community Engagement (CCE) at Otterbein University is stepping up to make a difference for food-insecure youth and families in Franklin County. Otterbein will host an Outreach Program Food Packaging Event from 5-10 p.m. on Jan. 20 in the Campus Center, 100 W. Home St. Members of the Otterbein community and the general public are invited to lend a hand.

This service event celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service in conjunction with Otterbein’s 30th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation, a free public lecture being held at 3:30 p.m. on Jan. 20 in the Fritsche Theatre at Cowan Hall, 30 S. Grove St. The speaker, author Debby Irving, invites the Otterbein community to unpack privilege in her message, and the CCE invites the Otterbein and Westerville communities to package macaroni and cheese dinners.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 18.1 percent of people in Franklin County live below the poverty level. Poverty often leads to food insecurity for area residents.

“When we heard about this program to package nutritious macaroni and cheese meals, we wanted to be part of a national effort to eradicate hunger,” said Dr. Melissa Gilbert, director of the Center for Community Engagement and associate dean for experiential learning. “This is a unique assembly line process, and anyone can join our food packaging efforts.  It is a unique opportunity for students and local volunteers to work together to make a positive impact on our community.”

The macaroni and cheese meals were created by Iowa State University’s Food Science Department and are nutritious and tasty. All of the meals will stay in our community and be distributed by Westerville Area Resource Ministry (WARM) and the new Otterbein campus food co-op, which will help to ease the food insecurity of Otterbein students.

Otterbein University will package the meals with financial assistance from a grant from Iowa Campus Compact and the Corporation for National and Community Service. The $2,000 grant will provide over 5,000 meals and 600 pounds of food.

The CCE, an office within Student Affairs, brings together students, faculty, and staff to address five key areas through service-learning, volunteerism, and community-based action research. The center oversees 12 different student-led organizations that work with urban youth, elders, and animals and non-profit agencies and local schools.

The Outreach Program was started by Floyd Hammer and Kathy Hamilton of Union Iowa.  A non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, Outreach has helped to package more than 330 million meals that have been distributed across the United States and around the world. Outreach Meal Packaging Events are set up across the United States to engage businesses, religious and civic organizations, schools, and volunteers of all ages to package nutritious meals for the hungry.  Co-Founders Floyd Hammer and Kathy Hamilton were invited to the White House by President Barack Obama and former President H.W.Bush to be honored with the 5,000th Point of Light Award.  As a recipient of the top “Four Star” rating from Charity Navigator and GuideStar’s Exchange Seal for transparency, Outreach is committed to improving the lives of disadvantaged individuals. For more information, visit www.outreachprogram.org.

The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that helps more than five million Americans improve the lives of their fellow citizens through service. With help from local partners, the Corporation works hard to tap the ingenuity and can-do spirit of the American people to tackle some of the most pressing challenges faced by the United States.

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