Million Meal Movement prepares for 24-hour All-Star event

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Daniel and Nancy Hintz lead the Million Meal Movement, which will pack 1 million meals for Hoosiers Feb. 15 and Feb. 16. (IBJ photo/ Eric Learned)

Nancy Hintz is preparing for the Million Meal Movement’s biggest event since she and her husband, Daniel, founded the not-for-profit in 2007.

The Indianapolis-based Million Meal Movement, with more than 6,000 volunteers, will aim to pack more than 1 million meal pouches during the NBA Cares All-Star Day of Service from 4 p.m. Feb. 15 to 4 p.m. Feb. 16 at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Hintz, who serves as executive director of the Million Meal Movement, said details matter in the preparation. “We have the ingredients ready. We have volunteers lined up. And it’s just a matter of getting things prepared on the trucks and just shipped out and ready to go.”

Volunteers have filled all slots, in 90-minute shifts over the 24-hour period, to assemble the pouches that Midwest Food Bank, Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana and Feeding America will distribute to food banks in all 92 counties. Two types of shelf-stable packages will be assembled: a rice and vegetable meal with soy protein, and macaroni and cheese.

“We have done a million meals, and we have done 24-hour events, but we’ve not combined those two together,” Hintz said.

She got the idea for the Million Meal Movement from a segment on NBC Nightly News about a similar program in Minnesota.

“I fell in love with it when I saw kids and people of all ages, all abilities, being able to have a very easy, hands-on experience in volunteering,” she said.

Today, the Million Meal Movement has a warehouse at 9250 Corporation Drive near East 96th Street and Hague Road. Since 2007, the organization has packed nearly 35 million meal pouches that have gone to food banks around the state.

The organization invites volunteers to assemble the meal pouches at its headquarters year-round. It has hosted its signature event, the Million Meal Marathon, for 13 years, and Pacers Sports & Entertainment has provided Gainbridge Fieldhouse for that event since 2021.

Eric DiMiceli, vice president of social impact for the NBA, said the league works closely with local NBA teams and host committees to identify needs in the cities where it holds the All-Star Game.

The league held its inaugural NBA Cares Day of Service in New Orleans in 2008, a little more than two years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the region.

When studying Indianapolis, DiMiceli said, league officials learned food insecurity is a significant challenge. The Pacers’ experience working with the Million Meal Movement made the not-for-profit an ideal fit for the Day of Service, he said.

“With the capabilities of Million Meal Movement and the confidence the Pacers had in them, we really saw the opportunity that we can make this really come to life and be a super impactful event,” DiMiceli said. Current and former NBA and WNBA players will participate, he added.

Hintz said she is excited to host the event.

“No one should be hungry. A basic right for everyone is to be able to have access to food,” she said. “[The 24-hour event is] all ages, all walks of life. Everyone is welcome, and everyone is able to get involved. And I think that’s just what brings communities together.”•

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