Local effort to feed the hungry gets much-needed assist from Blues great Chris Pronger

LADUE, Mo. – It's a record effort to feed the hungry from St. Louis to Africa. Former St. Louis Blues great Chris Pronger and nearly 2,000 volunteers staffed a makeshift factory: one day, three shifts.

They churned out more than 507,000 meals on Friday.

For a group of students from LaSalle Middle School in St. Louis, it was truly from the heart. Pronger hit a gong, which served as a factory whistle.

He was the honorary foreman clocking the volunteers onto the assembly lines in the converted John Burroughs High School gym in Ladue for St. Louis World Food Day.

“These people start working pretty hard. It starts becoming a little bit of a competition from table to table,” Pronger said.

Three dozen students from LaSalle worked as if lives depended on it, because lives do: about a half-million of them, not necessarily far from home.

“I think we can do a lot because the pace that we’re going at – we’re going really fast. So we’re doing really good,” said LaSalle student Autumn Thomas.

“We certainly have a lot of students that face poverty both the temporary kinds and the kind that is long term and chronic,” said Christine Holladay, an administrator at LaSalle. “Many of our students and their families have accessed food pantries. We send food home with our students in the evening frequently … so, yes, this is very real for many of the kids that are here.”

“People around the world don’t have a lot to eat so we have to help them out,” said LaSalle student Ariel Bolden.

Nearly 200,000 meals will go to food pantries in St. Louis, with more 300,000 bound for Tanzania in Africa. The dry meals are packed with nutrition designed to reverse starvation, restore health, and change the world.

“It’s good to think about because you’re making a difference in someone’s life and changing their life,” Thomas said.

World Health Organization statistics suggest that, on average, a child dies every six seconds from hunger or hunger-related illness.