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United Way’s “Big Cheese 4, Plus More” Helps Combat Hunger Issue

Jun 12, 2018 • by United Way Berks County
A scene from The Big Cheese 2017

The Record-Breaking Event Adds a New Meal Type

Please Note: This event has reached it’s goal for volunteers and all spots have been filled!

Penn State Berks will be taken over by scores of United Way volunteers participating in the organization’s “Big Cheese 4, Plus More” on June 15 and 16. More than 1,000 volunteers will package 500,000 meals over the two days, with the packaged meals now including both mac and cheese and rice and bean meals. The event is noted as the largest food packing event by any organization in the country’s Northeast area, as well as the largest event of its type organized by a United Way, according to The Outreach Program. The Outreach Program is the national nonprofit organization that organizes food packing events with local organizations across the country.

The 1,000-plus volunteers include families, corporate teams and individuals, along with members of Emerging Leaders United, which consists of individuals ages 21 – 45 who desire to become more involved with community activities and United Way. More than 55 local organizations, including businesses, nonprofits and others, will be represented. Volunteers will assemble 500,000 meals during the two-day event to help fight hunger within our community.

Friday night volunteers will package the mac and cheese meals, with the rice and bean meals packaged on Saturday. Each meal package is nutritionally balanced to meet recommended dietary guidelines and includes all the dry ingredients to make approximately six servings. The packaged meals will be provided to the Greater Berks Food Bank, and a supply will also be provided to the Reading School District. Both organizations will store and distribute the meals to those in need throughout the year. Each meal costs 25 cents; costs were supported through United Way’s community impact budget directed towards meeting basic needs.

“We know that in Berks County one in five people face food insecurity, or are at risk. This event will make a significant difference in the lives of those people. The Greater Berks Food Bank appreciates the many volunteers participating in Big Cheese. Their efforts will have a tremendous impact in helping local children, and all of our neighbors in need, stay nourished in the coming months,” says Peg Bianca, Executive Director.

“We continue to be in awe of our volunteers and their commitment to this event. When the volunteer registration first launched, the volunteer openings for Friday night were filled within just one hour, and Saturday’s volunteer openings were filled within 4 days. We had to establish a waiting list from the very beginning. We believe our volunteers are simply the best, and we are heartened to see such enthusiasm around this event. Good things really do happen when we live united,” says Tammy White, President of United Way of Berks County.

Big Cheese 4, Plus More is one of many volunteer projects occurring the weekend of June 16 as part of the national Day of Action when communities around the world come together and take action to address a community challenge.

When: Big Cheese 4, Plus More takes place on Friday night, June 15 (6:00 – 9:00 pm) and Saturday morning, June 16 (9:00 am – 12 noon).

Location: Penn State Berks, Beaver Community Center

Other: The community can follow the day’s activities by following United Way of Berks County on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at #uwberks and #BigCheeseBerks

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