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With the noble goal of raising a million meals to help those in need, La Jolla resident Mike Daniels hosted a food-packing party at Carmel Valley Catholic Cathedral High School on June 11-12 and opened an invitation to other Catholics who wanted to help.

Daniels, deacon of St. Bridget in Pacific Beach, along with the deacons of the Diocese of San Diego and their wives, hosted the event. Over 1,000 volunteers showed up over the weekend, and together they reached the goal of collecting over 166,000 food parcels, each feeding six people, to make a total of 1 million meals for people in three countries over the course of OneMeal Kids Around the World Program.

“In Catholicism, there is an obligation to feed the poor,” Daniels said. “It’s part of the Catholic experience, so people from the Catholic churches in the area came.”

According to him, La Jolla was represented by parishioners of the Catholic churches of Mary, the Star of the Sea and All Saints.

In an assembly line style with materials provided by the OneMeal program, volunteers worked in shifts to create food parcels.

According to Kids Around the World, “OneMeal is a basic nutrition that can be used across cultures to provide sustainable nutrition for underprivileged children where food insecurity is a daily reality.”

Dishes include red lentils (“an excellent source of protein”); enriched white rice for calories; the PhytoBlend package, which is a combination of 24 vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients; and a dehydrated vegetable bag.

They are designed for easy rehydration and feeding.

Half of the parcels will go to a food center in Tijuana, a quarter to a refugee center in Ukraine, and a quarter to a food center in Ecuador.

“I think everyone needs positivity right now and it was a joy to be a part of something good. … It made us feel like part of humanity.”

— Mike Daniels

Daniels has been involved in small food packing events in Pacific Beach for many years. But “I wanted to scale up” by packing a million servings in one weekend, he said.

Tables were laid for five shifts, three on Saturday and two on Sunday, with volunteers working for each vacancy.

Volunteers work at stations distributing lentils, rice, dehydrated vegetables and condiments for each set of meals.

Volunteers work at stations distributing lentils, rice, dehydrated vegetables and condiments for each set of meals.

(Contributed by Mike Daniels)

“It was a great event and a lot of fun,” said Daniels. “We had music and people were dancing while we were packing. We did so well with our Saturday shifts that we packed 800,000 meals. We were more efficient than we thought. It was wild.”

“We live in a time where there is a lot of bad news, so it’s great to be part of something positive,” he added. “I think everyone needs positivity right now and it was a joy to be a part of something good. We all thought, “Maybe the world isn’t so bad after all.” I feel great giving people a chance to say thank you. … It made us feel like part of humanity.” ◆

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