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Food packaging event helps fight poverty

Telegraph photo by MATHEW PLAMONDON Aliceon Jodice, and Alvirn High School students Makella Houdagba and Rose Boudreau fill meals in shelf safe packaging during the United Way of Greater Nashua's Day of Caring event.

HUDSON – The brigade of volunteers at Alvirne High School on Thursday helped pack about 10,000 meals to help the United Way of Greater Nashua feed those in need.

While partnering with the Outreach Program, the New England-based nonprofit which provided the supplies, and the high school, officials with the United Way reached their goals during their first Day of Caring event of the year.

In an effort to combat the effects of poverty and food insecurity that some in Greater Nashua experience, the United Way raised more than $2,500, while signing up a full staff of volunteers to assemble the 10,000-plus meals.

“It’s worthwhile and a great program, and it’s fun to do,” United Way Co-Chairman Bernard Rousseau said. “This is a very popular event. You can see the results immediately.”

With the food being packaged in shelf-stable packaging – the same kind used by End 68 Hours of Hunger and the Nashua Soup Kitchen & Shelter – the meals will stay fresh until individuals receiving them from the food pantries use them.

Telegraph photo by MATHEW PLAMONDON Alvirn High School student Rose Boudreau fills a a meal with some of the ingredients during the United Way of Greater Nashua's Day of Caring event at the school.

In Nashua alone, the poverty rate has steadily increased from 2009 from 7.2 percent to 10.8 percent in 2018, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. With this increase grows the need for assistance of those facing food insecurities in the city, as well as its surrounding towns.

Those volunteering Thursday afternoon showed up to the Alvirne’s lunch room excited and willing to give their community a hand. While spending their time packaging lunch and breakfast meals, volunteers were able to appreciate just how far these kinds of events go in the community.

“I think it’s wonderful. The more we can do to help the homeless and the people that need food, the better,” Hudson resident Margaret Roberts said. She spent her time Thursday with her husband and a room full of other volunteers preparing and packing meals.

“It’s great; it’s a wonderful community effort,” Roberts added.

During the event, two kinds of meals were put together: apple cinnamon oatmeal for breakfasts and the minestrone soup for lunches. Being prepared and sealed in airtight packaging. Each meal consists of six servings. The meals will be distributed to food pantries throughout Greater Nashua.

Telegraph photo by MATHEW PLAMONDON Meghan Bodington and other volunteers work to fill meal packages during the United Way of Greater Nashua's Day of Caring event at Alvirn High School.

With the $2,500 in donations going toward the purchase of ingredients, United Way event coordinator Susan McHugh said the donations went a long way toward the success of the program. With each meal only costing 22.5 cents, every $10 donation amounted to approximately 44 meals.

McHugh said with every Day of Caring event, and all of the other volunteer opportunities in which the United Way participates, the organization and its members have seen growing support from the community.

“I think it’s fantastic that we’re able to bring in different volunteers to support our events,” McHugh said. “And really, the volunteer pool from the community has greatly increased.”

The next food packing Day of Caring event will take place from 1-5 p.m. on June 5 at SHARE Outreach in Milford, where they hope to package another 10,000 meals.

Mathew Plamondon may be reached at 594-1244, or at mplamondon@nashuatelegraph.com.

Telegraph photo by MATHEW PLAMONDON During the United Way of Greater Nashua's Day of Caring event at Alvirn High School volunteers work to package meals to be distributed to food pantries throughout the Greater Nashua region.

Telegraph photo by MATHEW PLAMONDON During the United Way's Food Packing event, Alvirn High School Students Skylar Bomba and Sarah Lavoie prepare the packaging with labels.

Telegraph photo by MATHEW PLAMONDON Volunteers spend time Thursday to packaging meals to be distributed to food pantries throughout the Greater Nashua region at the United Way of Greater Nashua's Day of Caring event at Alvirn High School.

Telegraph photo by MATHEW PLAMONDON Aliceon Jodice, and Alvirn High School students Makella Houdagba and Rose Boudreau fill meals in shelf safe packaging during the United Way of Greater Nashua's Day of Caring event.

Telegraph photo by MATHEW PLAMONDON Heather Fauteux and her son Ryan, 12, seal off a packaged meal during the United Ways Day of Caring event at Alvirn High School.