Ever since Chase Perkins became the regional manager for business development in Ohio for The Pack Shack, he’s focused on answering a simple question.
“How do I help my city?” says Perkins, a Springfield native who moved back to the city about four years ago.
During the last few years, some businesses and organizations from Springfield, including Konecranes, St. Raphael Catholic Church, the Springfield Board of Realtors, and more, have planned trips to Columbus to participate in one of The Pack Shack’s Feed the Funnel parties.
During a party, funnels are used to fill bags of shelf-stable food items. The bags are then packed in boxes that can be delivered to people and food pantries in a community designated by the business or organization that planned the party.
“Our mission is to supply provisions and opportunities to our neighbors in need,” says Bret Raymond, CEO of The Pack Shack, which has operations teams in Ohio, Arkansas, and Kansas.
The changes brought on by COVID-19 and social distancing created some new challenges for the organization, which usually thrives off bringing large groups of people together to help meet hunger needs.
“We’re still packing meals,” Raymond says. “We’re just doing it in family units, one family at a time, using proper social distancing. We’re not doing big groups like we would usually do.”
The past two weekends have been busy for The Pack Shack in Springfield, as organizers from High Street Nazarene Church and Hillside Avenue Church of God reached out to The Pack Shack to set up micro packing parties.
“One could say the need is even greater now than before COVID-19,” says Perkins.
The packing schedules were organized in shifts with no more than 10 people scheduled at a time. Household family groups stayed separate of each other and a standard of sanitation procedures was used to make sure the volunteers and the people receiving the meals would all be safe.
In about three hours, each micro party – of which there were three in Springfield so far – was able to pack more than 19,000 meals.
Each box include 17 shelf-stable items, such as pasta, canned proteins, and canned vegetables, that will last for a year from when they were packed, Raymond says.
In Springfield, the families from Kenwood and Lagonda elementary schools already have been recipients of some of the locally packed boxes, Perkins says. The churches will continue working to distribute the rest of the boxes to schools or food banks most in-need in the coming weeks.
In addition to helping provide food to people in need, The Pack Shack also strives to build community by bringing together diverse groups of people who want to give back to the communities where they live, work, and play.
“Families are coming together around a table to serve others versus sitting in front of a TV,” says Perkins. “It’s a beautiful thing to see people from all different backgrounds coming together.
“I want The Pack Shack to be a catalyst for bringing Springfield together in service of each other.”
Clarification: This story has been updated to state that each micro party in Springfield was able to pack more than 19,000 meals.