The United Way of Hill County is looking for volunteers who want to have a good time while helping to feed the growing number of county residents who don’t have enough food.
Saturday, the United Way will undertake a massive community effort to prepare 65,000 servings of food starting at noon Saturday, at Van Orsdel United Methodist Church, 410 5th Ave.
United Way Executive Director Lorraine Verploegen estimates that 200 volunteers will be needed to get the food ready to be distributed to the Havre Food Bank, churches and social agencies around town. Those groups will have the packaged food ready for people who show up needing it, she said.
“In just four hours we can create over 10,800 packets that, when cooked, yield 65,000 servings of protein-fortified macaroni and cheese or bean and rice meals,” Verploegen said.
United Way is looking for three types of people:
• Up to 10 people who would be willing to show up at the church at 10 a.m., take some basic training and be willing to supervise a group of 10 volunteers during the packaging process.
• Runners to fill tubs with food. Volunteers must have two traits: the ability to lift up to 50 pounds and a willingness to help others.
• Any volunteers who can donate two hours of their time, from noon to 2 p.m. or 2 to 4 p.m. to package the food.
Verploegen said it would be especially nice to get students to donate some time to the effort.
To thank the volunteers, there will be a spaghetti feed at 5 p.m. at St. Jude Parish Center.
Everyone else can arrive at noon or 2 p.m., she said.
United Way officials said it won’t be strenuous or complicated work, and it will offer people a chance to chat with and have a good time with old and new friends..
Lorna Bjerga, executive director of the Havre Food Bank, said the additional food is needed to supplement the supplies already on hand.
There is an increasing number of people showing up at the food bank, she said.
“A lot of them are people who have had their hours cut or have been laid off,” she said.
The food packages will be helpful to feed people who have run out of their monthly food bank allowance, she said.
People who show up to the food bank in an emergency situation can have the packages, she said.
Verploegen said a 2012 study by Feeding America reports the number of Hill County residents faced with hunger is 2,300 showing 1 in 7 individuals are food insecure. That means people are in need of food assisstance sometime during the year.
Some of these people are not eligible for federal food assistance and turn to food pantries and other agencies to fill the meal gap.
People are urged to call United Way at 265-6561 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. to sign up for a duty they would like to undertake and in a shift they want.
“If you are unable to volunteer, donations are being accepted to assist in paying Outreach Inc. for the meal supplies,” she said.