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Central Floridians take the Million Meal Challenge

November 19, 2012 by

Wearing hairnets, Ethan (left) and his brother Jason carefully weigh rice as they help pack meals at the Million Meal Challenge Orlando event. Photo by Jim Stipe/CRS

From The Orlando Sentinel:

Central Floridians take the Million Meal Challenge

by Jeff Kunerth

A meal for the starving population of drought-stricken West Africa is a sandwich-size baggie of rice, soy meal, and dried vegetables supplemented by a packet of vitamins.

Sunday, an estimated 3,000 Central Florida residents participated in the Million Meal Challenge to provide 12,000 battered women, orphans and the elderly of Burkina Faso with a meal a day for one year.

Lined along long tables in a ballroom of the Rosen Shingle Creek hotel, college students, high school kids, cheerleaders, homeless men, parents and children, and church groups assembled the sustenance that may mean the difference between starvation and survival.

“I know what this means for a child in Burkina Faso,” said Thomas Awiapo, a Catholic Relief Services worker who was once a starving orphan himself in Ghana. “For me, that little snack changed the story of my life.”

Two Bishop Moore High School students recruited 500 of their classmates — everyone from the soccer team to the cheerleaders — to participate in the event, which was held in Orlando for the first time.

Geri Freeman and two of her children were among the 20 kids and adults from All Souls Catholic School in Sanford who spent three hours filling and sealing the plastic bags.

“I want to teach my kids about feeding other kids,” she said.

Although all the food is going West Africa, the event also creates awareness among the participants about hunger in Central Florida in the shadow of Thanksgiving, said Greg Higgerson, vice president of Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida in Orlando.

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