SNOHOMISH — It started as a way to bring Snohomish families together at dinnertime.
Now, meals are shipped overseas to families living in Haiti and Tanzania.
Students at Snohomish High School are hoping to raise $40,000, which they’ll use to buy ingredients. Volunteers have been recruited to prepare meals in May, which will go to Haiti and local organizations in Snohomish. They’re about $13,000 short of their goal.
The Snohomish Kiwanis Club donated $5,000, which can feed about 20,000 people.
This is the third year Snohomish High School has participated in meal packaging events through the Living the Dream Foundation.
Tina Kuna, of Snohomish, helped start the foundation as a branch of her business, Dream Dinners. She is a co-founder and chief financial officer. There are 85 Dream Dinners locations across the country, including one along Main Street in Mill Creek. Families can assemble a month’s worth of meals within an hour and freeze them.
The convenient dinners give families more time to spend together.
“Our goal is to grow great kids during that dinner hour,” Kuna said. “We think that’s where the magic happens.”
Sometimes, it is the only hour families can be together, Kuna said.
The concept is not locally exclusive.
Ben Doucette, a marketing teacher at Snohomish High School, has incorporated the project into his curriculum. His students invited an Everett nurse to speak about her experience living in Haiti for two years. She also returned last year to work in a triage center after Hurricane Matthew tore through the area.
“We really felt like that would be a great place for the meals to go,” Doucette said.
The students plan to donate 100,000 meals to Haiti. An additional 50,000 will be distributed in Snohomish to Volunteers of America, food banks and schools. Counselors can keep them on hand.
The year-long project has been a great learning experience, Doucette said.
“At times I think they’ve been overwhelmed when we say you’re going to raise $40,000,” Doucette said.
He reminds them to take one bite at a time. Students practice project planning, organization and communication. They learn how to call businesses and solicit sponsorships.
“One of the scariest things you could ask a high school student to do is to call someone on the phone,” Doucette said.
He also hopes this project expands his students’ view of the world.
Kuna visited villages in Tanzania two summers ago. She spent three weeks delivering meals to tribes. She saw women walk five miles each day to collect water. They carried it back by the gallons in large buckets, which they balanced on their heads.
One of the tribes relied on hunting for their food, but poachers had made game scarce. The Living the Dream Foundation, in partnership with the Friends and Family Community Connection, worked with the local government. They agreed to provide food and to build a medical center in the village if the government installed power and hired a visiting doctor.
It’s not a handout, Kuna said. It’s a hand up.
Caitlin Tompkins: 425-339-3192; ctompkins @heraldnet.com.
For more information about the project, go to livingthedream foundation.com.