When University of Montana President Seth Bodnar was officially inaugurated on October 26, instead of having the ceremony focus on himself, Bodnar joined hundreds of volunteers in a day of service.

The United Way, the University of Montana and other community groups gathered in the UC Ballroom and put together 50,000 meals for the Missoula Food Bank.

“This was identified as a need for this community,” said Bodnar. “Around this community, there are children who face hunger, and we had the great opportunity to mobilize about 350 people who packed meals to feed more that 50,000 people in our community.”

Bodnar was impressed with the spirit of the volunteers who created an assembly line to put the food packages together.

“It was fantastic,” he said. “The energy, the excitement, the fun for our community. I say community because we had students, faculty, business folks, nonprofit leaders, and it was wonderful to do it in conjunction with the United Way, and I greatly appreciate Susan Hay Patrick’s leadership.”

The Missoula Food Bank will help to distribute the meals, according to Executive Director Aaron Brock.

“These are easy for mom or dad to make at home, and they are meals to feed a family of six that will go home with the kids in Empower Packs,” said Brock. “Currently we do our Kids Empower Pack program every Friday afternoon, and it sends kids all across our county who need it home with a little bit of food for the weekend. These are kids identified by resource counselors, teachers, principals, adults in the school who say ‘this is a kid who’s showing up on Monday morning and they can’t learn because they’re hungry because they didn’t get enough food over the weekend'.”

Brock said about 930 kids will take home the food packages this Friday.