Making 20,000 meals in a few hours sounds intense, and when you consider the overall impact, it’s also a very moving experience. This year, Accumold partnered with Meals from the Heartland to help feed those in need. Among forty employees that participated, one Korean immigrant had a unique perspective.
Ellen Overton spent 5 years at the Korean Women in Science and Technology Institute where she was the External Affairs Officer, worked in policy development, and organized international forums and networking opportunities with other organizations to collaborate on projects. Prior to Accumold Ellen worked for Musco lighting. The Iowa-based company is well-known for lighting some of the biggest sporting events in modern history. They have locations all over the world, including South Korea. Eventually, they sent her to the USA for training where she met her husband at church. Today, she has found her way to Accumold, where she works as our Payroll Accounting Assistant.
Of all the experiences during her experience with Meals from the Heartland, one thing surprised her. “The CEO was there and that was surprising,” Overton said. “I’m from South Korea; you don’t see leaders do that alongside the workers.” Roger Hargens, CEO of Accumold, and the VP of HR, Grace Swanson not only made the decision to partner with Meals from the Heartland, but intentionally planned it during the workday.
As a mom and student attending DMACC, Overton was able to participate due to Accumold’s decision to utilize their staff over the workday. “You can’t go wrong by helping others,” Hargens said. “I was amazed at the gracious teamwork that was apparent during this process. I am very proud and thankful for our Accumold team,” he said.
Because Accumold is a producer of critical components for companies all across the world, their staff is no stranger to efficiency. “Accumold employees packaged a total 93 boxes of meals (20,088 meals total) in under 2 hours! They were the model of efficiency,” said Mike Lowe, the on-site coordinator and a manager for Meals from the Heartland.
Meals from the Heartland is eliminating global hunger by holding packaging events every week at their packaging center in West Des Moines, Iowa. They also organize on-site events with businesses, schools, and churches. As the name indicates, the non-profit directly purchases all its food at fair market price from the “Heartland”. The soy used is grown in the Cedar Rapids area and the rice comes from Arkansas. Other ingredients are from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois.
The non-profit relies entirely on volunteers and donations from businesses, and churches in Iowa, receiving no government assistance or support. Alongside Convoy of Hope, their distribution partner out of Springfield, MO, they distribute 20 pallets of meals to 37 different countries around the world every week.
“Sixty-five of the boxes they packed will be shipped to schools, feeding centers, and orphanages in countries such as Haiti, the Philippines, Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, and South Africa. The other 28 boxes are going to be donated to a church food pantry in the Des Moines area,” said Lowe. “Accumold has a very diverse group of employees. I spoke to some people who were actually from a few of the countries we supply with meals. It was wonderful to see the joy on their faces knowing that the food they were packaging could very likely feed hungry children in their home country.”
It’s not surprising, volunteers were choked up at times. “We were told how the meals will go to Africa. For many kids, this will be their only meal,” said Overton. For her, the experience was truly a diverse and international experience that had a profound impact, “when I heard that, it was very moving.”