Meals with meaning

On Valentine’s Day from 8 a.m. to noon, Marshall Middle School students, Rotarians and anybody who wants to come for fun and fellowship will gather in the MMS gym to measure out and package batches of rice, soy, dried veggies, meat protein and vitamins.

The activity is part of the fifth annual Food For Kidz project organized by MMS students and the Marshall Sunrise Rotary Club.

Food for Kidz (not to be confused with the Food4Kids backpack program) is a native Minnesota project founded in Stewart 10 years ago to raise awareness of and combat hunger at home and abroad. Most recently the group has organized disaster relief for the Philippines after the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan.

“Our school has fundraisers to package food for locally or to be sent to Third World countries,” said Alexis Baynard, president of the MMS student council.

The food packages contain ingredients blended to make four meals that alone or mixed with other food can support life indefinitely. Ingredients and packaging are sent from Stewart to be measured, mixed and packaged locally.

Students raise funds through activities such as movie nights, ice cream Sundays, the spring jazz concert and donations from Rotary, according to Eric Luther of the Marshall Sunrise Rotary Club. There are also loose change buckets in 25 locations around Marshall.

“Sometimes people make stuff to sell, or we have hat days where you pay a dollar to wear a hat to school,” said Andrew Skogrand, student representative of Positive Behavioral Intervention Supports group. “

Altogether, about 610 students are involved. In 2013-2014, they raised $6,200, enough for 95,200 meals.

“I think the students are really the stars of this,” Luther said. “It’s kind of amazing how the kids rally around this event.”

Luther, Skogrand and Baynard urged any members of the community who want to help to come by MMS on Friday morning, register at the office and pitch in. Packaging the food packets takes a fair amount of labor.

“It’s fun to work side-by-side with the kids,” Luther said.