More than 1,500 volunteers are part of a project today in the UNI-Dome on the University of Northern Iowa campus to assemble food packages for needy children.

Northeast Iowa Food Bank Executive Director Barb Prather says the goal is to pack 48,000 bags of food, a goal that will take a large facility to accommodate. “The UNI-Dome gives so much to the community why not put the biggest volunteer event in the Cedar Valley together to really make an impact on childhood hunger and let’s do it on MLK Day because Martin Luther King Junior was about service,” Prather says.

Prather says the meals are for the backpack program that began in 2005 and sends food home with kids as a way to bridge the food gap during the weekend.

Lauren Finke, Director of the Volunteer Center in Waterloo is one of the organizers.
“We’re using tablets so people will kind of be able to do their self-check in, just as simple as finding your name and pushing a button saying your there and then will get everybody into their groups or smaller categories and get people ready to go,” Finke explains.

The food in the backpacks includes mac and cheese, juice and cereal. They served between 4 and 5,000 students last year through the program.

(Thanks to Pat Blank, Iowa Public Radio)