Joyful party with purpose returns in June


FOR ALL AGES: About 4,000 volunteers are needed for the third annual Million Meal Event, June 8 to 9, and volunteers of all ages are welcome. (Credit: Marcos González)

Share this article:

SAN DIEGO — Two years ago, at the diocese’s first annual Million Meal Event, about 3,000 people labored under soaring summer temperatures to pack 1 million nutritious meals for the poor during a single weekend.

Last year, it was overcast and drizzling as approximately 4,000 volunteers strove to meet an even more ambitious goal of 1.5 million meals.

When the Million Meal Event returns to Cathedral Catholic High School for a third year during the upcoming June 8-9 weekend, once again with the goal of assembling 1.5 million meals, there’s no telling what the weather will be like.

Regardless, fun is in the forecast.

“It’s interesting that, no matter what the weather’s been, it doesn’t diminish the people’s joy,” said Deacon Jim Scull of Ascension Parish, who is on the event’s planning committee.

And joy has been one of the popular event’s hallmarks.

In assembly-line fashion, participants work in two-and-a-half-hour shifts to fill and seal meal packets consisting of red lentils, rice, vitamins and seasonings. During that time, a DJ plays lively music, and the organizers keep enthusiasm alive by announcing when a new milestone — perhaps a thousand, or 10,000 or 1 million packaged meals — has been reached.

“You don’t feel like you’re working,” said Deacon Scull. “You feel like you’re just having a wonderful party.”

“It’s a … ‘feel-good’ event that brings people together in working, but (also) brings smiles to the faces of everybody who’s there,” echoed Deacon Kevin Murray, of Sacred Heart Parish in Coronado, who also serves on the leadership team.

He said that participants have told him that they wish the event wasn’t only once a year.

The Million Meal Event is a charitable project of the Diocese of San Diego’s permanent deacons in collaboration with the nonprofit Kids Around the World.

About 1 million of the meals packaged this year will be distributed by the nonprofit to one of its partners in the southern African nation of Zambia.

The remaining 500,000 meals will go to Casa de Los Pobres (House of the Poor), an urban relief center in Tijuana, Mexico, founded and operated by the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady, Queen of Peace. There, Deacon Scull said, the food will provide almost eight months’ worth of sustenance.

Volunteers can sign up for one (or more) of three available meal-packing shifts on Saturday morning and afternoon (8:30-11 a.m. and 12:30-3 p.m.) and Sunday afternoon (12:30-3 p.m.). There are also set-up and clean-up shifts on Friday morning and Sunday afternoon, respectively.

Jeff Rosene, president and CEO of Kids Around the World, has attended the previous Million Meal Events. He praised the deacons for their “amazing” and “very impressive” effort.

Of the more than 160 food-packaging events that Kids Around the World will be involved with this year, Rosene said, the Million Meal Event is “the largest single-weekend event.” It is surpassed only by a one-day, multi-site event that involves the participation of eight cities.

Some $375,000 must be raised to purchase the raw materials for the Million Meal Event. Donations can be made at

The event attracts volunteers of all ages – from very young children, who can’t do much more than decorate the boxes filled with food packages, to teenagers earning service hours, to senior citizens, for whom retirement means more time to give back.

St. Brigid’s parishioner Caroline Kelner, another member of the leadership team, encourages families to bring their children. She said that the event offers a good way “to plant the seeds” in children for understanding the importance of service.

Deacon Murray said the event is “a lot of work to put it on,” but everybody “feels a real sense of accomplishment when … all the meals are packed and on their way to those who are in need.”

For more information, visit Those interested in serving as corporate sponsors can call (858) 361-1240 or email

Tags: , ,

Recent News

You May Also Like

Four Begin ‘Journey of Service and Leadership’

Distinct paths to diaconate on ‘God’s time’

Donations still needed for Million Meal Event

Event packs a ton of fun, faith in 2-hour shifts

Meals packed in SD reaching needy families

‘Awesome’ event packs 1 million meals for poor