Naperville students battle hunger crisis with Food Fight

Jared Prosapio walked around the auxiliary gym of Naperville Central on Thursday surveying the work of fellow students who were busy packing meals bound for the Dominican Republican.

Assembly lines filled bags with rice, dehydrated vegetables, soy and chicken before the plastic bags were weighed, sealed and boxed.

By the end of the week, students from his school and four others — Naperville North, Neuqua Valley, Waubonsie Valley and Yorkville — will have packed almost enough meal packets to fill a shipping container.

Jared, a junior, took over the reins this past school year organizing the annual Food Fight, a student-lead movement founded by his older brother, Jordon, and John Masecas in 2009 to end world hunger.

Food Fight started with just two schools and has grown to five this year. Next year, Jared said he hopes to add Bolingbrook High School and several in Chicago. He would love to add even more high schools. The more participants who can raise money and package the food bags, the more meals get into the hands of hungry families around the world. Last year, Food Fight packed its 1 millionth meal.

Throughout the school year, students in the school host a variety of fund-raisers including T-shirt sales, business solicitations and concerts. Demetri Morris, a sophomore, is working to organize a Food Fight Festival to feature live music.

Money raised by students is given to the non-profit group Impact Lives to purchase the specially formulated meal ingredients. The students then create the meal bags that Impact Lives ships.

It is definitely a win-win situation for Impact Lives, which has a staff of only four, according to Mary Hoffer, the organization’s event and serving learning manager. Hoffer said they could get machines to create the bags, but high school students, community organizations and faith-based groups would lose the chance to impact a family’s life directly.

Jared said just because he’s young doesn’t mean he can’t have an impact.

“I am a teen-ager and I have plenty of time where I’m not doing anything except playing video games. Why not make that time count for something,” he said.

“I have the ability to change something.”

Anyone interested in participating in Food Fight or who wants more information can visit www.foodfightforhunger.com.

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