Writer / Janelle Morrison
The mission is to provide meals for the food insecure and the hungry with compassion. The M3 organization empowers volunteers to make a difference through hands-on, high-energy meal-packing events. Each year, thousands of volunteers participate in meal packs. They then donate millions of meals to Food Bank and to the Midwest Food Bank, who then distributes the food packs to food pantries.
“In 2006, my wife Nancy was at home with our children and was watching the NBC Nightly News,” Dan Hintz recollected. “The segment was called ‘People Who Make a Difference’ and they featured an organization called Kids Against Hunger. The bottom line was that it appeared to be a great program that was primarily in Minnesota and Iowa, and they were looking to expand across the nation. When I came home, Nancy told me about the program and we began to research the organization more in depth.”
Nancy Hintz, the heart behind the M3 organization, elaborated, “For my own two daughters, I frequently tried to find opportunities for them to be put in situations where they were helping others. I know that helping others is important to develop a well-rounded, healthy person. It is best to foster that at a young age. When I saw this program on the news, and heard the pleas for people to engage and open more locations in the U.S., and then saw the wide age group of volunteers, I realized that this was what I was looking for. There were children packaging food and all different kinds of people from all walks of life working together for one cause. All of the things that typically divide people just go away and they all work side by side for something that is bigger than themselves. I saw the beauty in that right away and I felt a calling to bring this program to Indiana. I looked at Dan and told him that this is what I wanted to do and he agreed that there was no reason not to.”
“We both grew up with humble beginnings,” Dan Hintz said. “It is very impactful and makes a deep impression on the people and the kids who help us. I call it the ‘hop’ when the kids come in and see what difference they have made with their own bare hands and how it is going to help somebody in need and they get so excited that they literally hop up and down. Our mission is to feed the hungry and the starving and to empower our children. There is a hero inside of all of us.”
The Hintzs rely on their two full-time employees, Jill Madinger, the executive director, and Shane Scarlett, the manager of event services and volunteer engagement, to oversee the daily operations and volunteer coordination. They are also in the process of planning their keystone event that is coming up on Nov. 1, 2016, the Million Meal Marathon. Their current base of operations is in a warehouse that they rent space from, the Widow Star Ministry. Jill Madinger explained what a typical volunteer shift looks like.
“We can have about 100 people at a time,” Madinger said. “That breaks out into 10 lines, 10 people per line. One table will pack about 4,000 meals in two hours and one person will pack 400 servings. The great thing about what we do is provide an opportunity for kids to get involved as a volunteer and know the feeling of making a difference. The feeling of being hungry is something that a child can relate to.
The difference is these kids know when their next meal is coming from. The kids take great pride in knowing that they helped to pack meals that will feed a child for 365 days and that is phenomenal.”
M3 will work with thousands of volunteers every year. It garners the support of 3,000 volunteers at their main event, the Million Meal Marathon, alone. They also work with several area schools, civic organizations, churches and businesses that participate in volunteer opportunities both on and off-site.
The M3 organization relies heavily on its volunteers as well as their corporate sponsors. Many central Indiana corporations, including the Colts organization, are already involved and actively participate at the main event that takes place at the Lucas Oil Stadium.
For more information on how to become a sponsor and get involved with the upcoming Million Meal Marathon or for information on how your business or school can get involved, please contact Jill Madinger, executive director, at 317-863-8655 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit the website at millionmealmovement.org.