Nick Staten packs individual meals at a half-day food packing event at the Toyota Central Atlantic Region office on April 11 in Glen Burnie. 74,000 meals were donated to the Maryland Food Bank. (Courtesy Photo / HANDOUT)
April 18, 2016
University of Maryland student and Terps Against Hunger volunteer Sarah Barreca wanted to make a difference.
When she asked her father Keith Barreca, dealer Performance manager for Toyota‘s Central Atlantic Region for advice, the pair did not anticipate Toyota would respond in a such big way.
“I mentioned it to my dad over the dinner table,” Sarah said. “I even gave him a brochure — and I sold him. He started talking to his co-workers.”
After Keith approached Toyota General Manager Tim Bliss and Assistant General Manager Bob Zeinstra, a partnership between Toyota and the Terps was formed to deliver thousands of meals in a food-packing event on April 11 at the regional Toyota office on Baymeadow Drive.
“When I mentioned it to the assistant general manager, I thought it would probably result in a small, private donation,” Keith Barreca said. “In reality, everyone stepped up big time. The team surpassed expectations.”
Toyota’s Central Atlantic Region office purchased the necessary goods, including rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables and vitamin and mineral powders. Sixty of the office’s 75 employees participated.
The original goal was 45,000 meals, but the end result was 74,000. Meals were packed and loaded onto Toyota Tundra pickup trucks for a caravan delivery to the Maryland Food Bank.
“It’s not often that we get to stop what we normally do to give back to the community,” Bliss said. “74,000 meals show what this team can do when we’re focused and determined. We’ve helped families in need in Glen Burnie, right here in our back yard.”
Terps Against Hunger President and University of Maryland senior Jonathan Fix told volunteers they packed at an incredible rate.
“The average rate is 200 meals per volunteer,” Fix said. “Your rate today was 350 meals per volunteer. You should be very proud of yourselves. Toyota is going help a lot of families who are local to where your office is.”
Maryland Food Bank CEO Beth Martino expressed her gratitude for the generosity of Toyota and Terps Against Hunger. Martino said the meals would go a long way toward feeding hungry households in Maryland, and assured the groups the meals would fly off the shelves.
“It’s amazing how a few dozen people pitching in for a couple of hours can change people’s lives,” Sarah Barreca said. “Little efforts like that can influence so much. Every single package we made will go into someone else’s hands.”