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United Way’s “Big Cheese 5” Helps Combat Hunger in Berks

by United Way Berks County

Jun 12, 2019
The Big Cheese Event

The Record-Breaking Event Takes Place June 14 & 15

Scores of United Way volunteers will descend on Penn State Berks on June 14 and 15 to participate in United Way’s Big Cheese 5 event. More than 1,000 volunteers will package 500,000 meals (mac and cheese and rice and beans) over the two days. 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 that organizes food packing events with local organizations across the country.

The 500,000 meals assembled during the two-day event will help fight hunger within our community. The packaged meals will be provided to Helping Harvest (formerly 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. “We know in Berks County one in five people face food insecurity, or are at risk. We’re grateful for all of the volunteers’ hard work; we know their efforts will make a significant difference in the lives of children and families during the coming months,” says Peg Bianca, Executive Director of Helping Harvest.

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 want to become more involved with community activities and United Way. More than 65 local organizations, including businesses, nonprofits and others, will be represented. 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. Each meal costs 25 cents; costs were supported through United Way’s community impact budget directed towards meeting basic needs.

“We are amazed and inspired by the volunteers’ commitment. Since this event first began, volunteers have demonstrated such a strong level of enthusiasm and desire to be a part of Big Cheese, and this year is no exception. Our community is filled with so many caring people wanting to make a difference,” shares Tammy White, President of United Way of Berks County.

Big Cheese 5 is one of many volunteer projects occurring the weekend of June 15 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 5 takes place on Friday night, June 14 (6:00 – 9:00 pm) and Saturday morning, June 15 (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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