A student-led Food Fight with a purpose is taking place at five Naperville-area high schools this week, and it's creating 158,000 meals for those in need.
Students at Naperville North High School participated in the food-packing event throughout the day Wednesday, aiming to prepare 40,000 high-protein meals for people in countries such as the Dominican Republic.
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"I'm in Food Fight now because I see there's a struggle that needs to be worked with, and we need to do what we can do to help," said Naperville Central junior Jared Prosapio, who is in charge of student leadership this year. "As high school students, we do have the ability to do that."
Jared said his older brother, Jordon, started Food Fight in 2009 after being motivated at a church conference to get out of his "comfort zone." The organization is student-run and not affiliated with a church or religious group, but it works with Minnesota-based Impact Lives to distribute the meals students pack.
"We will never solve the hunger crisis, but when we work together, we can help make a big difference," said Mary Hoffer, an event manager with Impact Lives who attended Food Fight at Naperville North on Wednesday.
The meal-packing effort has grown from two schools its first year to five this year, and Jared said the events show high school students can make a dent in far-reaching causes such as world hunger. Participants from Naperville Central, Naperville North, Neuqua Valley, Waubonsie Valley and Yorkville high schools expect to pack 158,000 meals throughout the week.
At each location, Jared said eight student leaders spend the whole day keeping things organized, while about 50 or 60 other students help out during one class period.
"This program is totally student-led," Hoffer said. "There are no parents or teachers involved. That makes it even more impressive.
While putting together ingredients such as chicken, soy, rice and dried vegetables, Jared said students listen to music, dance around and chat with friends.
"We have as much fun as we can," Jared said. "While having fun, you're packing meals so someone without a meal can have one."
Food Fight organizers continue to accept donations to support the meal-packing endeavors. Donations can be made at foodfightforhunger.com.
Daily Herald staff photographer Dan White contributed to this report.