BRISTOL - With a prolonged civil unrest in Haiti, the Rotary Clubs of Bristol, Plainville and Southington joined together to pack 15,230 healthy meals for those in need.
David McAllister, president of the Bristol Rotary Club, said the initiative began after Mary Lou Connors, a Rotarian in the Avon area, heard from a contact in Haiti about a “lack of optimal food and water.” Connors is involved with a nonprofit organization called Helping Haitian Children that brings the food to Haiti from Long Island.
“If it’s not one thing, it’s another in Haiti, but the newest problem is that there has been an ongoing anti-government revolution for several months,” said Connors. “They are revolting because the corruption in the government has become very obvious and they are tired of living like slaves in their own country. The people are very resilient though and they are grateful for our help. Water and food are in short supply. For a while, the docks were closed and any food sent over was just sitting there. But, now it has opened up again. The food is going to Mountain Village, where we have local people working to get the barrels to those who are most in need.”
Connors said the food got to Long Island, and from there, it will be going to Haiti by cargo ship.
“It will be going into barrels and then into containers,” she said. “The containers will be going by boat and they should arrive there in six weeks.”
The idea for the three-club project came from Assistant District Governor Joanne Alfieri. Planning came together over the winter among Jenn Solomon of the Southington Rotary Club, Stacy Boyajian of the Plainville Club and Laura Watson of the Bristol Club.
The collection was held Saturday, March 30. Project Coordinator and Terryville Rotary Club President Dick Dill supplied food from his nonprofit organization, Harvest Pack, and Rotarians then packed them for shipment on an assembly line. Each club split the cost of participating in this program and had more than 40 of their members and High School Interact members volunteer for the cause.
“We ended up packing 141 boxes,” said McAllister. “We were only expecting to be able to pack 8,000 or 10,000 meals but our volunteers really worked hard over the two- to three-hour period. The meals include a protein powder mixture, a vegetable mixture and a carbohydrate mixture _ like rice. They were put into bags that can feed six people.”
McAllister said that the three clubs have coordinated in the past, but not to this degree.
According to an email sent by the Bristol Rotary Club, participants ranged in age from 10 to in their 80s.
“For many, this was their first time participating in a food packing program and they reported feeling a sense of pride and identity,” the email stated.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.