HICKORY CORNERS - Stone Valley Parish is raising funds with which it hopes to package 50,000 meals of nutritionally fortified macaroni and cheese.

Members of the parish, which includes Zion Stone Valley Church, Hickory Corners, and Salem Zion Church, Pillow, are reaching out to friends, family and area businesses to help raise $12,500 for the Stone Valley Beats Hunger Project.

Organizers are hoping to have 180 people volunteer their time to package the macaroni and cheese meals between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday, April 5, at Hickory Corners Fire Company.

The Rev. Curtis Zemencik, pastor of Stone Valley Parish, attended his first packaging event at Faith Lutheran Church in Selinsgrove and was inspired to try it here.

The night before the event, ingredients and packaging supplies are delivered and an assembly line set up so work can begin promptly at 9 a.m. the next morning.

Fifty million people in America are "food-insecure," meaning they don't know where their next meal is coming from. Statistics show that 37 percent of young families in the country live below the poverty line. According to statistics, this is the highest level on record.

A total of $12,500 is needed to purchase the ingredients to make 50,000 individual meals.

A donation of $10 will provide a meal for 40 people.

Once the meals are packaged, they will be distributed to local food banks. Persons who volunteer at a local food bank/pantry can come to the event and reserve a stock pile of macaroni and cheese meals and take them along that day. The remaining packages will be given to Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, which supplies all food banks and soup kitchens in the region.

The meals last nutritionally for two years. Every serving contains 21 vitamins and minerals and 11 grams of protein.

To date, the parish has raised approximately $6,500, Zemencik said earlier this week.

Persons or companies interested in making a monetary donation may do so by sending a check payable to Zion Stone Valley Church, with Beat Hunger Project in the memo line, and mail it to 1899 Mountain Road, Dalmatia 17017.

Besides monetary donations, volunteers are needed. Two-hour shifts will begin at 9 a.m. and end at 5 p.m. Persons may come as individuals or groups. To sign up for a shift, call June Shaffer at 570-758-4506.

For more information or to get involved, contact Zemencik at 570-640-4818 or stonevalleyparishbeatshunger@gmail.com.