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Helmut Schmidt, Published November 20 2012

Fill The Dome aims to collect half-million meals for hungry

FARGO – This year’s Fill The Dome drive is still working to collect enough cash to provide 500,000 meals for the region’s hungry.

But if Oak Grove sixth-grader Jack Machacek could get his way, it would take more than the Fargodome to contain the enthusiasm of area youth.

“If we get all the schools in Fargo, we could fill two domes,” Machacek told students, businessmen and city officials at the annual drive’s pack-up press conference Tuesday.

“We could feed hungry people for years, if we just donate cans!” he said.

This year’s campaign is nearing its goal, but it’s not quite there.

Between cash and cans, the campaign has about 430,000 meals so far.

By Tuesday night, 167,467 pounds of canned and pre-packaged food, about 83.7 tons, had been taken to Fargo’s Great Plains Food Bank.

That is enough to put out 128,820 meals, said Shanley High School senior Nico Hanson, a spokesman for the Fill The Dome drive.

That beats last year’s food collection by three tons, Hanson said.

This year’s drive also collected $75,000 in donations online and through a texting campaign, Hanson said. At four meals per dollar, that’s about 300,000 meals.

To still meet its goal, Fill The Dome is taking monetary donations online

at www.fillthedome.org through the end of the month, Hanson said.

Donors can also text the word FILLDOME to 20222, which will add the $10 donation to your monthly phone bill.

Melissa Sobolik, director of member and client services at Great Plains, estimated the food that filled much of the floor of the Fargodome could feed the hungry in Fargo-Moorhead through the spring.

However, Great Plains’ reach is much farther. She said it takes about 150,000 pounds of food a month to supply the needs at the food banks and soup kitchens served by Great Plains in North Dakota and Minnesota.

Matt Leiseth, president of Hornbacher’s grocery stores in Fargo-Moorhead, praised the 20 student leaders of this year’s Fill The Dome campaign.

He said students managed to sell 2,935 $10 bags of food in his chain’s six stores to benefit the drive in the past week.

“Awesome. Awesome work, everyone,” Leiseth said.

More than 50 area schools took part in the drive, organizers said.

Topping collections at elementary schools was Fargo’s Nativity Elementary.

Carl Ben Eielson Middle School in Fargo led collections at middle schools.

Fargo’s Shanley High School and Oak Grove High School are co-champions for high school collections, Hanson said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583