Leaders of an Iowa-based organization that sends millions of meals to poor and malnourished people around the world are hoping to find more volunteers for the effort in the New Year. Meals from the Heartland executive director Susan Bunz the meals cost roughly $1.20 to package and typically contain rice, soy protein, vitamins, minerals and dried vegetables.

“We did 15.7 million meals during the year last year and a little over a million meals stayed in the United States, with the bulk of that staying in Iowa,” Bunz says.

One of the biggest annual volunteer efforts in the country is the Meals From The Heartland “Hunger Fight.” The event this past September in Des Moines drew roughly 13,000 volunteers who packaged more than 4.2 million meals over four days. Bunz says they didn’t reach a goal of 5 million meals mostly because there weren’t enough volunteers. She says the event used to draw more people from all over the state, but many are organizing meal-packaging efforts in their own communities.

“A lot of communities are conducting their own hunger fights, so they may not come down here…but they’re still doing their part,” Bunz says.

This was the ninth year for the Hunger Fight, but the Meals From the Heartland organization has a package center that’s open year-round. Bunz says they host mobile packaging events around the state and it’s easy for Iowans to sign-up online and volunteer to help.

“It’s only two-hour shifts, it goes fast, and you can feed a lot of people in a short amount of time,” Bunz says.

According to the organization’s website, Meals from the Heartland has packaged about 65 million meals since the organization was founded in 2008.