Volunteers needed for Second Annual Food from the Heart meal-packing event

Posted at 4:49 PM, May 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-30 16:50:51-04

COMSTOCK PARK, Mich. -- The recently proposed federal budget suggests cutting more than a quarter of funds in the coming decade from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly called Food Stamps. While hunger relief officials call this proposal devastating, they say there are local ways to get involved.

The Second Annual Food from the Heart event will take place Wednesday, June 21 at Van Andel Arena. Feeding America West Michigan and Heart of West Michigan United Way are looking for another 350 volunteers to help make this event happen.

  • Sign up to volunteer and find out more details on the HWMUW website here

During last year's event, 500 volunteers packed about 75,000 meals. This year organizers are hoping to nearly triple this with 1,000 volunteers packing 200,000 meals: a protein-enriched mac-and-cheese and a cinnamon oatmeal breakfast. Kellogg's is a key sponsor and Tony the Tiger will be there along with live music.

"[Last year's event] was incredible, the energy in the room was amazing, people were so excited to be involved," said Katelyn Kovalik, HWMUW volunteer manager.

Kovalik says they're looking for volunteers ages "five to 105" as well as groups from companies, churches, schools, families and anyone wanting to get involved.

"It comes at a really critical time for us where we need to have community-wide support," said Andrew Steiner, FAWN media coordinator.

Food from the Heart is happening during a critical time Steiner says with the pending federal budget cuts. The White House proposed cutting $193 billion from SNAP over the next decade. Currently, SNAP helps feed 42 million Americans each year.

"What’s being proposed is about a 25 percent reduction to [SNAP], which would be absolutely devastating to be quite honest," Steiner said.

"It would cause millions of Americans to lose their support and to struggle with the basic need of getting enough nutritious food."

Organizers like Steiner and Kovalik say getting involved on a local level and volunteering with Food from the Heart as well as writing your legislators to oppose the cuts makes a difference.

  • Learn more about budget proposals and email legislators from the FAWN website here

"We want people to be aware of that but also to feel a sense of empowerment that they can get involved and they can speak out on behalf of their neighbors in need," said Steiner.