MARQUETTE — Hockeyville USA 2016 is in full swing, and events are happening around the area in celebration of Tuesday’s big game. For one of those events, high school students in Marquette got a chance to lend a hand in the fight against hunger.

“Hunger is a huge global issue, and we’re showing through this event that everyone — even in a small town like Marquette — can make a difference,” said Jenece Upton, Manager of the Kraft-Heinz Company Foundation.

Students from three Marquette area high schools worked throughout the day Monday to pack more than 280,000 hunger relief meals to be shipped to youth in Uganda and Zambia. The event — organized by Kraft Heinz and Stop Hunger Now as part of Hockyville USA 2016 — was put together to not only pack the meals, but to educate the community about hunger around the globe.

Paul Renaud, Aid Procurement Director of Stop Hunger Now said, “Part of our mission is to create a movement around ending hunger, so to bring people together to educate them on how doable it is to end hunger. We could do this with a machine, but to be able to bring volunteers together and have them do this as part of an event — it really is key to what we are trying to accomplish.”

The event featured some friendly competition, and although it was hard work, there was plenty of enjoyment to be found.

“I made lots of friends doing this — new friends,” said Marquette Alternative High School student Ricky Costantino-Berry, “and everybody’s dancing and making the food while they’re doing it, which is really nice. I see nothing but smiles right now, which is cool.”

“It’s great, especially to see students smiling, knowing that they’re helping others across our country — across the world — so it’s great to have student involvement for something that’s bigger than just themselves,” said Marquette Senior High School Assistant Principal Amanda Erspamer-Berry.

“For the kids to come together like this in a bonding effort to help out people they’ve never met, they’ll never know. It’s nice to see something like that,” added former NHL player Craig Coxe.

The first round of students alone packaged over 43,000 meals.