Volunteers for neighbors in need Allina program meet

Volunteers gathered at 40 Allina Health locations for two hours Saturday morning packaging healthy meals for neighbors in need.

Siblings Dyllion, 9, Rilee, 13, and Emilee, 15, Kiefert were among volunteers packing food at Mercy Hospital Saturday morning as part of Allina Health’s meals for neighbors in need project.

Siblings Dyllion, 9, Rilee, 13, and Emilee, 15, Kiefert were among volunteers packing food at Mercy Hospital Saturday morning as part of Allina Health’s meals for neighbors in need project.

The meals for neighbors in need event promoted healthy eating on a budget and the 2013 grant application process for Allina’s Neighborhood Health Connection program.

Five Allina Health locations in Anoka County were part of the volunteer effort Saturday – Mercy Hospital, Unity Hospital and Allina medical clinics in Blaine, Coon Rapids and Ramsey.

There were some 50 people volunteering at Mercy, many of them Allina employees, but also other community members, according to Jennifor Nelson, volunteer coordinator at Mercy.

“They are all wonderful people,” Nelson said.

Allina Health purchased more than a quarter million pounds of food for the project.

According to Timothy Burke, Allina public relations manager, more than 1,700 volunteers took part in the meal packaging systemwide, and 50,000 meals were packed which will feed 200,000 people.

Each meal pack assembled by volunteers includes cans of black beans, corn, diced tomatoes, chicken and a bag of brown rice – enough to feed four people.

In addition to packaging the food, volunteers also wrote personal notes for the recipients of the food.

The June 1 kicked off Allina Health’s Neighborhood Connection Program, through which Allina will award grants to groups or organizations who submit ideas for bringing people together for healthy activities.

According to an Allina Health press release, the purpose of the grant program is to support group activities that promote social connections and increase health behaviors (healthy eating, active living.)

Online applications are accepted through June 14. Winners will be announced via email July 10.

Peter Bodley is at peter.bodley@ecm-inc.com

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