BRADENTON -- Spring break wasn't just about fun and frolic for some Manatee County students.
More than 100 participated in the annual Rotarians Against Hunger food program, held by the Bradenton Rotary Club. They helped package 50,000-plus meals on a recent Saturday for distribution by Our Daily Bread to the community's homeless and needy.
Among the participants were students from Saint Stephen's Episcopal School's Interact Club, the Manatee High School and Palmetto High JROTC programs and the State College of Florida Collegiate School. They were joined by volunteers from Our Daily Bread, Rotary Clubs and area churches.
"We've seen a huge increase in the number of student volunteers over the last two years," said Bradenton Rotarian John Quinlan. "These dedicated kids took time out to help our community in an area of critical need -- helping to feed the disadvantaged in our community."
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The Rotary brought in bulk dried food in big containers for the event, broke it down, mixed in ingredients and packaged individual meals with the volunteer help.
"We set up assembly lines and began measuring, weighing, mixing, packaging, sealing and boxing," said Pete Blews, one of the event managers. "There is an increasing number of homeless families in our community, plus a growing number of families that struggle day by day to make ends meet and we plan to increase the number of meals we package and distribute in our communities next year."Financing for the project came from the Bradenton Rotary Foundation, supporters of Our Daily Bread and other community benefactors.
The Bradenton Rotary Club has contributed over $350,000 to humanitarian projects over the past decade.
Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7055. Twitter:@vinmannix