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CASA GRANDE — With a goal of giving back to the community by feeding hungry families, the Casa Grande Rotary Club and its partners will offer prepared “heat and eat” meals to those in need on Saturday in the parking lot of Eva’s Fine Mexican Food.

Beginning at 11 a.m., 200 prepared meal packages will be distributed to recipients on a first-come-first-serve basis. Each meal package will include prepared chicken enchiladas, beans and rice for a family of six.

Recipients do not need to have six members in their family to receive a meal package. The meals are intended for those in need or the unemployed.

“We know that there are people in the community who are hurting and in need,” said Louie Sanchez, a Rotary member and manager of the Walmart Distribution Center in Casa Grande. “These meal packages are a nice treat that people can take home and eat. It’s not like a food box where you receive food and then go home and decide what to make with it.”

The idea for the event came when Sanchez recently visited a food distribution event organized by Lighthouse Ministry, which hosts food give-aways every month.

“I went on a Thursday around 9:30 in the morning and they were already serving their 350th car,” Sanchez said. “There were cars lined around the building. I looked into some of these cars and it was all families with kids who through no fault of their own were hurting.”

He teamed up with Eva’s restaurant owner Fernando Cornejo, who was also hoping to plan a meal distribution, and the two proposed hosting the event to their fellow Rotary Club members.

Cornejo said he’s excited to be involved.

“It’s a way for us to give back and help families,” he said. “We know there is a need out there and we wanted to provide a meal to people as a way of letting the community know that we’re all in this together.”

The food will be prepared and packaged in Eva’s restaurant.

“We’ll do all the food prep and keep the meals chilled in our coolers,” Cornejo said.

The effort aims to feed as many people as possible. Through the distribution, the organization will provide 1,200 individual meals packaged in 200 six-serving packages, Sanchez said.

“The packages might feed a family of eight if some of their members are younger children,” Sanchez said. “If they only have two or three members in their family, they can share with others or freeze the rest.”

Funding for the meals came from individual Rotary members and partners, including Arizona Public Service Co., Rotary District 5500, Fitzgibbons Law Offices and Eva’s. Walmart Foundation contributed $1,000, matching two-to-one a $500 donation made by Sanchez and his wife.

Donations and other contributions were made by local businesses, said Rotary member Steve DiMuzio, who also worked to organize the event.

On Saturday, when meal recipients arrive, they’ll line up in their cars at the Eva’s parking lot, 665 N. Pinal Ave. They’ll be served first-come-first-serve with a limit of one family per car.

“Volunteers will give each family a ticket with the directions on how to heat the meals and a list of the donors,” DiMuzio said. “Once all of the tickets are distributed, late-comers will be turned away.”

There is no cost to recipients to receive a meal.

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Melissa St. Aude is the Arts & Entertainment editor at PinalCentral. She can be reached at mstaude@pinalcentral.com.

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