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Million Meal Movement: The family behind the meals

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — WISH-TV is proud to be the media sponsor for the Million Meal Marathon happening in just a few weeks.

The Million Meal Movement’s signature event is in its 10th year. The effort to get food to those in need started 13 years ago when the mother of the Hintz family was feeding one of her own.

Nancy Hintz says she was feeding her youngest son, Alex, late one night when she saw a story about hunger on TV that resonated with her.

Alex (right) at the Million Meal Marathon with a friend, photo courtesy: Hintz family

Now, she and her family have created an organization that packs millions of meals to send out to Hoosier families and are celebrating a decade of the Million Meal Marathon.

“Starting out it was just Nancy and I and a handful of volunteers so whenever we would put the events on we would drag the children with us so they had to start at a very young age but they loved it,” said Dan Hintz, co-founder of Million Meal Movement.

Young Vanessa Hintz, photo courtesy: Hintz family

Over the years the Hintz family has celebrated major milestones during some of their packing events. Dan and Nancy celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary at an event with Andretti Green Racing and their middle daughter, Vanessa, had all of her friends help out with a packing event for her birthday in second grade.

Dan with Tony Kanaan, photo courtesy: Hintz family

“For them to learn that they could make a big difference on their own. that you are never too small or too little to help someone else,” said Dan.

For this family when they started the Million Meal Movement they had big dreams for what they could accomplish for their community, but what they didn’t initially realize is how large the impact would be on their own lives as well.

Photo courtesy: Hintz family

“Growing up constantly working to give back to others it made us more away from a much younger age than perhaps some that we did grow up very privileged, we did’t have to worry about having food for dinner, going to bed hungry,” said Jessica Hintz, the Hintz’s oldest daughter.

Jessica (left) at a packing event, photo courtesy: Hintz family

Normally the Million Meal Marathon brings thousands of people into Lucas Oil Stadium with a goal to pack 1 million meals in one day. 2020 has forced some changes for safety reasons, but that is not stopping the Hintz family and WISH-TV from feeding families in need.

“Our goal is still a million meals. we want the volunteers to be able to come here and have a safe approach so over the course of 30 days we have 40 packing events scheduled of just small groups where we implement social distancing measures so people can still feel comfortable yet still make a difference,” said Nancy.

This year is as important as ever with 2/5 Hoosier families suffering from hunger during the pandemic. Food pantries are finding their demand is up 40 percent.

“This is a tougher year, we can certainly get it done but it takes the community to come together and do it,” said Dan.

This year, the Million Meal Marathon will stretch over a 30-day period: October 13-November 7.

Organizers are planning for a total of 2,000 volunteers to gather in small groups over that month, to hand pack meals (while observing CDC guidelines).

All of the meals will go to food banks in Indiana, to help Hoosiers in need.

The Million Meal Marathon is also seeking donations to cover the cost of ingredients.

Every $1 donation provides four meals. To volunteer, click here. To donate, click here.

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