ST. CLOUD -- It started with an idea over coffee. A plan that Pastor Larry Strenge, Director for Evangelical Mission with the Southwestern MN Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America shared with Executive Director of UniteCloud, Natalie Ringsmuth, about having a food packaging event to help those in this area experiencing hunger.

In the end, Better Together: Central MN Communities Coalition was formed. This is not another organization! Instead, it is a coming together of multiple organizations, faith communities, businesses, and individuals, that are working together to serve those in our area that are in need.

Today (Thursday) at Apollo High school, Better Together Coalition along with volunteers helped packaged food to help multiple food shelves, churches/faith communities, and individuals in the area that are experiencing hunger.

Rebecca David

"We decided to pack food Ringsmuth says because we have a lot of hungry neighbors in our St. Cloud area".

A problem that Ringsmuth and others in the coalition see and feel is important for the community to know about.

"People are really getting to understand that we have a problem with poverty in this area and, that we need to start making solutions. This isn't going to solve it but, this is at least going to move the needle a bit closer to where we need to be" says Ringsmuth.

The coalition raised $55,000 and partnered with Outreach, Inc., a national food packing company, to pack three different meals: rice and beans, mac and cheese, and Italian pasta.

Although they may not solve the issue of hunger overnight, together they realize they can make a difference. Something dedicated volunteer Linda Henrichs was happy to see today.

"This makes me so happy to see all these people. I was here for the first shift cause I was helping serve sample food. To see all these many people coming together in a community to feed our community is awesome" says Henrichs.

The coalition is hoping to eventually pack over 200,000 meals and their hard work did not go unnoticed. Outreach, Inc. said, the coalition is currently in the top five when it comes to the sheer amount of volunteers and meals packaged nationwide!.

Sometimes the best way to address a problem is by facing it head on and coming together.

The food packaging was free and open to everyone.

If you would like to make a donation visit Better Together: Feeding Our Communities

Rebecca David, WJON