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On Monday morning, a Kansas Department of Transportation truck found its way to Hutton Construction of McPherson to pick up a special load.


A forklift loaded huge cardboard boxes on pallets into the truck, with precious cargo inside — 109,200 meals for delivery through the Kansas Food Bank system.


Those meals were packaged as part of a special project at Hutton Construction. Employees and their families have started packaging meals for The Outreach Program.


“We are doing this because of the needs of food banks. Food Banks are being heavily utilized by people who have lost their jobs and in need the food, for whatever reason,” Luke Amend, team leader of Hutton McPherson, told The McPherson Sentinel last week.


Founded in 2003, The Outreach Program was started by Floyd Hammer and Kathy Hamilton, of Union, Iowa. The program packages meals for use worldwide. Outreach has helped to package more than 550 million meals that have been distributed across the United States and around the world.


The more than 100,000 meals loaded Monday will stay in Kansas, distributed by the Kansas Food Bank, which is headquartered in Wichita.


The nutrient-dense, shelf-stable, easy-to-prepare meals are in high demand in Kansas and across the U.S. by food banks and senior-service agencies that serve a vulnerable elderly population.


Hutton is the first company to help The Outreach Program create a new COVID-19 response model that engages its employees and families in a safe manner by observing social distancing requirements and utilizing appropriate protective equipment.


“We are excited to be able to partner with The Outreach Program in building this new delivery model to help support those in our community in need,” said Ben Hutton, CEO of Hutton.


Hutton is paying employees to package meals for food banks. The families of several employees volunteered to help the project.


“I have never seen anything like this. I have been packaging meals for 10 years, and have done millions of meals with volunteers,” said Rick McNary, an Outreach Program coordinator from Potwin. “Hutton has done something truly remarkable.”


Each meal can feed six people. All of that is being done under COVID-19 social distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders issued by the governor.


Over the three weeks that Hutton will be working on the project, the company plans to commit more than 900 hours of time and package 250,000 meals. Hutton is exercising corporate social responsibility in a practical and much-needed way, helping provide meals for seniors and other vulnerable populations.


Hutton is packaging some individual meals but also something called the Senior Pantry Pack. The pantry pack contains seven bags of meals, including two Cinnamon Apple Oatmeals; two macaroni and cheese meals; two rice and bean meals; and one pasta with tomato basil sauce meal. For donors who want to sponsor a package, each package costs $11.95 at outreachprogram.org.