Palm Beach Atlantic (PBA) University’s American Free Enterprise (AFE) Day celebration concluded with a meal packing partnership hosted by the Titus Center for Franchising and Meals of Hope, a nonprofit organization committed to “bringing people together to fight the hunger epidemic.” The event took place on November 14, and there were more than 100 individuals in attendance.
Workship students and volunteers were arranged in groups where they worked together to assemble meal kits. In just two hours, the teams assembled 50,000 meal kits which were then distributed to a food pantry in Belle Glade, Florida.
Two of the 2023 AFE companion medalists, Stephen Popper, founder, president and CEO of Meals of Hope, and Jack Day, vice president of Franchise Development for Meals of Hope, were also present.
Popper, when he was asked about what inspired him to start the nonprofit, shared that he was in the lumber industry for 28 years when he received a call from his mother out of the blue, asking him to help ship food to Haiti.
“Somehow I was able to gather school aged kids and people from the Rotary Club, and we recruited 500 volunteers in total,” Popper said. “135,000 meals were packaged that day.”
Ever since that effort in 2007, Popper and his wife “decided to keep going,” setting the goal of one million meals packaged per year.
Popper first met Jack Day, while they were both attending Babson College in Massachusetts in the 1970’s.
Day stated that he was intrigued by his former classmate’s organization, Meals of Hope, and in 2018 he decided to visit Popper’s operation. He subsequently decided that whenever the opportunity arose, he would do what he could to get involved.
In 2020, Day entered what he called an “early retirement,” allowing him to permanently join Meals of Hope.
Popper emphasized the importance of free enterprise in America, stating that it is “validation that you can make money and do good.”
Dr. John Hayes, director of the Titus Center for Franchising, shared his thoughts on the meal packing partnership, stating that it was “an opportunity for the Titus Center board and the students of PBA to display our university’s Judeo-Christian values by packing 50,000 meals.”
To watch local coverage of the PBA Meal Packing Partnership event, click here.
Photo courtesy of Alexis Cruz at CBS12. Palm Beach Atlantic University students packing meal kits on Tuesday, November 14.