Hundreds of volunteers gather to combat hunger at United Way’s Big Cheese 8

Last Friday, Penn State Berks was a hive of activity as more than 500 volunteers came together to participate in United Way of Berks County’s Big Cheese 8 event. This significant community initiative aimed to address local food insecurity by packaging nutritionally fortified meals for those in need.

Tammy White, president of United Way of Berks County, emphasized the importance of the event, stating, “Too many Berks County families continue to face food insecurity, and our volunteers want to help and make a difference. More than 500 volunteers enthusiastically signed up to be a part of this very impactful event. Our volunteers and supporters are committed to ‘doing right, right here’, and we are grateful for their generosity and caring spirit. Together, we improve lives and build a stronger community for all of us.”

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Throughout the evening, volunteers worked diligently to package a remarkable 250,000 meals. These included cheesy rice meals and apple cinnamon oatmeal, both of which are designed to provide nutritional value to those who need it most. The meals will be distributed by Helping Harvest, with additional supplies allocated to the Reading School District to support students throughout the year.

United Way collaborated with The Outreach Program, a national nonprofit that specializes in organizing food-packing events. Each meal, consisting of dry ingredients sufficient for six servings, costs only 25 cents to produce.

The funding for this event was made possible through United Way’s community impact budget, along with contributions from corporate and community sponsors. Key sponsors for this year included Customers Bank, EnerSys, FirstEnergy, Penske Transportation Solutions, and Members 1st Federal Credit Union.

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The event, which took place at the Beaver Athletics and Wellness Center, was not just about packaging meals but also about fostering a spirit of community and collective action. The success of Big Cheese 8 highlights the power of local efforts in making a substantial impact on food insecurity and demonstrates the community’s commitment to supporting its most vulnerable members.

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