Volunteers packaged more than 7.1 million meals during the recent annual Hunger Fight, a record number under an adjusted format to keep volunteers safe during the coronavirus pandemic. Organizers said that during the three-week event at the Meals from the Heartland packaging center in West Des Moines, 1,591 volunteers packaged the meals that will be distributed to feeding programs in El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Nicaragua, Philippines, Togo and Burkina Faso. The annual Hunger Fight is usually held over four days and draws 10,000 volunteers to Hy-Vee Hall, but the pandemic forced the shift in format, with new volunteer safety practices put in place and new bulk packaging procedures that were developed that allowed more meals to be packaged with fewer volunteers. “We are thrilled we were able to surpass our goal for this event given the current coronavirus pandemic,” said Meals from the Heartland Executive Director Greg DeHaai in a news release. “It was a great three weeks, but the battle isn’t over and we still need volunteers.” He said two-hour shifts are available Tuesdays through Saturdays at the packaging center for volunteers who want to help.

Iowa Stops Hunger is a yearlong Business Publications Corp. initiative to bring awareness and action to food insecurity in Iowa. Read additional stories on Iowastopshunger.com.