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Volunteers Pack 130,680 Meals in One Day

The Alameda County Fairground prepares for an emergency in Alameda County thanks to fair-goers and Kids Against Hunger.

The Alameda County Fairgrounds is officially designated by the State Office of Emergency Services as a Regional Disaster Recovery Center.

To be fully prepared for emergencies, they will store a supply of Kids Against Hunger food packed by volunteers visiting the fairgrounds.

On Wednesday, hundreds of volunteers attending the fair helped to pack more than 130,000 meals at stations set up for up to 170 people at one time.

Sherri Leal, the Director of Kids Against Hunger in Pleasanton, says 1,500 people signed up to help. According to Leal, all of the meals packed will stay local.

"If a natural disaster happens, the Pleasanton Fairgrounds is now a regional location with wells, satellite and food," said Leal. "This event will provide food for Alameda County residents should a disaster occur."

Leal says the food has a shelf-life of three to five years and will be rotated out regularly. 

"General Mills created this food package back in the '80s," commented Leal. "We will rotate the food supply out every year-and-a-half and we will ship the food to Haiti and the Philippines."

According to their website, the food packages contain "white rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables and 21 vitamins & minerals."

The website says the mission of Kids Against Hunger is to "feed starving children and help end world hunger."

Kids Against Hunger is an all-volunteer staff, Leal said.

"Ninety-five cents of every dollar donated goes toward the cost of food and shipping," said Leal.

Gail Gilpin of Pleasanton was helping at the meal-packing event, which was located at the "Country Plaza" picnic table area on the fairgrounds. Gilpin says she has been volunteering with Kids Against Hunger for more than two years and is also a member of the board.

"I think there's a lot of vision in this event," said Gilpin. "Our focus has been to care for people in dire straits in others areas but there is always the potential for a major emergency in California and now thanks to this event we will have a stockpile for Alameda County."

Yvonne Roberson traveled from Moraga to volunteer for the event.

"I think it is amazing how much people want to help," she said. "They don't even know what it is for but they want to help. Fun to see how with a bit of training you can get it all done. It is fun when you see people in groups who don't know each other getting to know each other."

“The heart and soul of any fair is the support of its community.  Today, we had over 1200 volunteers lend their support that allowed us to pack 100,000 meals to be used as an emergency food supply.  This effort was both heart-warming and humbling,” added Rick Pickering, Alameda County Fair chief executive officer in a press release.

Leal says they are still in need of $5,000 more in donations. Visit the Kids Against Hunger Pleasanton website to see how you can donate.

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