MANKATO — Several dozen high school kids had some star power assistance in preparing food packages Wednesday for Kids Against Hunger as they were joined by Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen.
“This is a great opportunity to help in a good cause and to help develop young leaders,” Griffen said.
The event was the kick-off to a major Million Meal pack event planned for October, when high school and college students and others plan to prepare food packs and collect food and money for the ECHO Food Shelf.
The event is being spearheaded by the Leaders of Tomorrow foundation, a relatively new group formed by MSU Sports Management faculty members Bryan Romsa and Jon Lim. The group aims to give leadership experience to high school and college students. (Visit www.lt-f.org)
“Leaders of Tomorrow is just getting started but there’s interest from the high schools, and Bethany and Gustavus and the St. Peter High School have showed interest,” Romsa said.
He said the group’s first big project with Kids Against Hunger grew out of Griffen’s passion for the cause and is already drawing interest from other groups.
“Other churches and businesses and organizations are getting involved.”
He said the October event is aimed first at helping get food to Mankato area residents.
“The main thing is to just have fun and help young people develop their leadership skills. That’s our mission, to develop the next generation of leaders.”
Stacy Mortensen, the National Honor Society adviser at Mankato West, brought a large group of students to the Kids Against Hunger facility to help out. She said she and her students are excited about the MSU leadership foundation.
“Their foundation seemed like a really good fit for our leadership groups at West. They really focus on teaching leadership skills rather than just sending them out to do service work.”
Ron Osterbauer, general manager of Kids Against Hunger, based in New Hope, said there are more and more Million Meal events being held at the 120 locations around the country and NFL players often team up to promote them.
He said the organization processed and shipped out 42 million meals last year and is aiming to double the amount this year. Food goes to more then 60 countries.