The 5th grade student wants to help feed hungry families in Texas.

By Nashia Baker
November 24, 2020

While the country has been under stay-at-home orders for a majority of the year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, one 5th grader has used this time to think about how he can lend a hand to those who need it most. Orion Jean is on a mission to deliver 100,000 meals to underprivileged communities by Thanksgiving Day, and he's called his project the "Race to 100K Meals" campaign. This idea came to light earlier this year after he began online learning and his parents, who work in the medical field, began working remotely. "I was looking around at all of the things that have been going on, and everything negative we hear in the news," Jean shared with CNN. "I knew that helping people could have an impact—it was what we needed right now."

This project involves having volunteers drop off packaged meals in Texas, hosting their own drop-off events, or giving donations to help Jean's project reach the goal. The meals themselves include a bottle of water, fresh fruit, a granola bar, and a written message from a volunteer. Jean has even partnered with the TangoTab nonprofit organization and Chobani (which has donated 100,000 yogurts) to help bring his vision to life. "Orion is a hero with a heart as big as Texas," Peter McGuinness, the president and chief operating officer of Chobani said. "He inspires us and reminds us all to keep the faith and always put people and humanity first, especially now."

Jean's parents also admire their son's ability to make such a huge difference in their home state—they describe the impact of the virus as something that can't be overlooked. "I mean, to really understand the magnitude of what happened, you had to see those food lines here in Texas," his father, McDonald Jean, said. "Those are some of the people who were hit the hardest."

Right now, Jean's project has created over 58,000 meals, and he has no doubt that they will reach the goal before the holiday this week. "I [know] we're going to get there," Jean said. "I can feel it."


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