There was an unusual party going on Saturday at St. Andrew’s School in Middletown.

And for a good cause.

About 300 volunteers gathered at the school to package meals for needy populations in developing countries. They prepared 30,000 meals in two hours by using an assembly line method.

LaToya Gillyard, who serves as a community engagement manager, started off the event by giving directions to package the food. Then she kept telling the crowd that the event was party for a good cause.

“It is a party because…if we get them energized, the more meals they make,” she said.

The meal-packaging project was called “The M.O.T. Community Rise Against Hunger Event” and was sponsored by the Southern New Castle County Rotary Club, the M.O.T. Rotary Club, and Our Daily Bread.

St. Andrew’s School hosted the event by supplying the space in the gym to package the meals. There were so many volunteers, some people had to stand outside and direct people to park on the grass.

More than $9,000 was raised to pay for the meals. Each package includes rice, soy, dehydrated vegetable and a micronutrient sachet. Each meal costs about 29 cents.

Most of the 30,000 meals will be delivered to schools in developing countries and cooked at the schools for the students where hunger is an issue.

John Nanni, coordinator for Rise Against Hunger, said the children will not only get a meal, but an education as well at the schools. “They get a win win,” he said.

The volunteers for meal packaging included people from organizations in the Middletown-Odessa-Townsend area and included adults, young people, students, scouts, church members and senior citizens.

“It’s amazing to see this many people turn out” for the event, said Margie Apps, a volunteer who lives Middletown. “People need to come out. We need each other,” she said.

“I just like helping people. That’s why I’m a Rotarian,” said Paul Willbanks, a volunteer for the event and treasurer of the Southern New Castle County Rotary Club. It’s a way “to give back to the community. That’s why we are doing this,” he said.

Since this first Rise Against Hunger project in Middletown was so successful, the organizers plan to hold another meal packaging party on March 16, 2019 with a goal of packing 50,000 meals.

Rise Against Hunger is an international organization with the goal of ending hunger worldwide. The organization was founded in 1998 by Ray Buchanan, a United Methodist minister. It was first called Stop Hunger Now and the name was changed in 2017 to Rise Against Hunger.

For more information, email Nanni at or visit the national group’s website at