Inside Stories

InsideChelmsford: CHS Students Pack 14,000 Meals of Hope

Chelmsford High School students work together to fill bags with ingredients for fortified bean and rice casseroles during a Meals of Hope volunteer event on Tuesday, Jan. 9

by Jennie Oemig

CHELMSFORD – Instead of going home for the day on Tuesday, Jan. 9, which was an early release day for Chelmsford Public Schools students, dozens of high schoolers gathered in the gymnasium to pack over 14,000 meals for local families in need.

A volunteer effort for Meals of Hope, the event brought together students from the National Honor Society, Get Involved Volunteer Everywhere (GIVE), Interact Club and the Class of 2024.

Working in teams at five workstations, the students filled bag after bag with ingredients for a fortified bean and rice casserole. The bags were sealed and labeled before being packed into boxes and placed on a pallet to be taken to the Merrimack Valley Food Bank.

Jack Day, director of franchise development for Meals of Hope, said the non-profit organization was founded in 2007, and has helped provide over 100 million meals nationwide.

Meals of Hope Boxes: Students at Chelmsford High School packed just over 14,000 bags of fortified rice and bean casserole, which were boxed up to be taken to Merrimack Valley Food Bank

“There’s a lot of need in Massachusetts,” he said. “It’s hard to believe there’s any need in this land of abundance, but there is. Every county in the United States has food insecurity.”

Mr. Day and his wife, Ellen, were both on hand for Tuesday’s Meals of Hope event.

“What we’re doing here today is going to have a huge impact,” he said. “These kids are fantastic.”

Marian Smith, Chelmsford High School English teacher and advisor of both Class of 2024 and Interact Club, said 59 students volunteered for the event.

“It’s so heartwarming,” she said, noting that many of them were giving up what otherwise could have been a free afternoon in order to do good.

Junior Laasya Madivada said she was thrilled to be able to participate.

“It’s a big event that will help a lot of people,” she said, adding that it was inspiring to see so many of her peers show up. “It just shows that a lot of us are dedicated to doing volunteer work.”

Senior Eshal Hussain said she has participated in Meals of Hope events in the past and was eager to be able to help out again.

“I just like helping the community,” she said. “Humanity is still alive, and we still care for one another, and that just warms my heart.”

Rice Bean Casserole: Meals of Hope’s fortified bean and rice casserole consists of rice, pre-cooked dried beans, soy protein, six dried vegetables and 21 vitamins and minerals.

Sarada Koppana, a sophomore at CHS, said she enjoys volunteering and is always seeking out opportunities.

“This is fun, and it’s helping people,” she said. “It seems tiring at times because you’re just standing there for two hours, but knowing the impact we’re going to make, it’s worth it.”

For each meal-packing event, a sponsor helps cover the cost of the ingredients; the sponsor for the event at CHS was JetSweep.

Some members of the Chelmsford PeeWee hockey team, for which JetSweep CEO Chris Barbanti is a coach, also dropped by to volunteer.

To learn more about Meals of Hope, visit

One response to “InsideChelmsford: CHS Students Pack 14,000 Meals of Hope”

  1. Deb Belanger says:

    There is plenty of good in the world! These students have been taught well

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