Wilton sophomores organize meal-packaging class event

A group of Wilton High School sophomores have teamed up to fight hunger by hosting their own Stop Hunger Now meal-packaging event at the high school Sunday, Dec. 4, from 11 to 1.

Superintendent Kevin smith praised the three sophomores spearheading the event — Lily Kepner, Ava Kaplan and Zoey Weiss — during the Board of Education’s Oct. 13 meeting.

Smith congratulated and thanked the trio “who, as freshmen last year, noticed that there didn’t seem to be too many class events for freshmen and sophomores.

“They were interested in hosting a class event that would enable students to come together and work toward a common cause,” said Smith.

Stop Hunger Now is an international hunger relief agency that has coordinated the distribution of more than 287 million packaged meals to children and families in 74 countries since 1998.

Lily, founder of Wilton High School’s WHS-ACT Club — formerly known as the Wi-ACT Support Club — has participated in annual Stop Hunger Now meal-packaging events organized by the Wilton Interfaith Action Committee (Wi-ACT) for the past three years.

“Groups of people of all ages put a specific amount of dehydrated grains and vitamins into a bag,” she said.

“The meals are then distributed and provide meals to children in developing countries who don’t know when or where their next meal will be.”

Lily said packaging meals for Stop Hunger Now is “very fun” and she wants to give other Wilton High School students the opportunity to experience it.

“You’re surrounded by all ages of people from the community, there’s music playing, and every time you hit 1,000 or so meals, someone gets to hit a gong,” she said. “You get into this rhythm of your job and it’s an amazing feeling.”

Lily said she and fellow WHS-ACT member Ava approached Zoey, who is a member of the high school’s student government, with the idea of organizing a meal-packaging class event.

“It was then that the three of us started planning it on our own,” said Lily.

Lily, Ava and Zoey have been planning and preparing for the Dec. 4 meal-packaging event since May of last year and have teamed up with fellow sophomore Meryl Kaduboski, co-founder of the Wilton Hunger Awareness Club.

For the past few weeks, Meryl said, she’s been encouraging Hunger Awareness Club members to participate in the Stop Hunger Now meal-packaging event.

“It’s a relatively simple way to help start to eradicate hunger,” she said, “and many of our members have signed up for one or more shifts to help out.”

Like Lily, Meryl is not new to Stop Hunger Now meal-packaging.

“I did a shift last year with a friend and it was a blast, so I knew that I had to get the club involved somehow,” she said.

“I think it will be a great opportunity for everyone to take part in something that really makes a difference in people’s lives.”

One in eight people in Connecticut is hungry, said Meryl, and “most people in Wilton either don’t know or don’t care — and that’s a real problem.”

“I started the Hunger Awareness Club to make people aware of this issue and want to do something about it,” said Meryl. “Even though packing these meals isn’t the solution to hunger, we are one step closer to finding a solution.”

“It’s wonderful to see all of this focus and coordination among students so highly motivated to address the issue of hunger both domestically and internationally,” said Wi-ACT Chair Stephen Hudspeth.

Since September, the sophomores have been raising money for their Dec. 4 event. With a goal of $2,944.08, they hope to package at least 10,152 meals, each costing 29 cents.

Lily said that many meals would take about two hours for 40 to 50 people to package.

The girls had raised a little more than 21% of their goal as of Oct. 17, and also have bake sales lined up to help reach it.

Wi-ACT held its sixth annual Stop Hunger Now meal-packaging at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church on Saturday, Oct. 22.

In addition to their Dec. 4 event, Hudspeth said, Lily, Ava, Meryl, and Zoey recruited at least 14 Wilton High School students to help out Oct. 22.

Click here to donate or register for the Dec. 4 meal-packaging.

To learn more about Stop Hunger Now, visit stophungernow.org.