Showing their hearts: MHA packages nearly 21,000 meals for the hungry

"Cheese, soy, mac, we know how to pack." Mars Hill Academy students chanted these words as they packaged nearly 21,000 meals for the hungry Friday, May 3.

More than 350 MHA students, staff, and parent volunteers gathered together for their first-ever school-wide meal packaging event during the Highlander Heart serve-a-thon and surpassed their goal of 10,000 meals by more than double.

"The Highlander Heart is about putting our faith into action as a school community," said Mark Cotterman, Head of School. "We have a heart for our neighbors in need and believe our students can make a difference in the service of our Lord for His Kingdom. These meals will go to nourish hungry children across Cincinnati and Kentucky."

During the Highlander Heart, lines of students, staff, and parents placed dry macaroni, soy flakes, and nutrient-rich cheese packets into multi-serving packages. The meals were designed by Iowa State University's Food Science Department. The cost of the ingredients was covered by event sponsors Johnson Investment Counsel and Rob Bedinghaus with Edward Jones.

"It's probably the biggest thing I've been a part of. It feels really good to make a difference," said fifth-grader Caden Franks.

MHA partnered with Northern Kentucky Hunger Relief, a charitable organization that began in 2011 working to provide meals for the hungry, particularly children. During the MHA event, they crossed a milestone – 2 million meals packed. These meals are distributed to local food pantries and to food centers in the Appalachian region of Eastern Kentucky.

In the weeks leading up to the event, the school hosted a canned food drive to benefit the Mason Food Pantry, which also received 5,000 of the meals packaged during the event.