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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Thousands are giving back on this Thanksgiving weekend, spending their Black Friday packing meals for the hungry at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

It’s part of the second annual “Amen To Action” event.

“People don’t realize how many people are really affected by hunger,” Stephen Popper, Meals of Hope CEO and president, said.

More than 3,000 people skipped the shopping malls on Black Friday, opting to give back instead.

“I think what you’re seeing and giving witness to is a symbolic activity,” volunteer Reid Carpenter said.

“Our goal today is to pack 1 million of our fortified macaroni and cheese meals,” Popper said.

amen to action Thousands Volunteer To Pack Meals For The Hungry On Thanksgiving Weekend

(Photo Credit: KDKA Photojournalist Jim Cahalan)

Volunteers worked in teams of 10 to assemble and put together meals.

“It is giving people who are common every day people a chance to touch it in a way that they can feel it and maybe recruit them into volunteerism on a longer term basis,” Carpenter said.

“So they’re putting in macaroni and soy protein and a proprietary cheese blend that has 21 different vitamins and minerals to it. The soy protein increases the protein content, and really, the goal is to pack 1 million meals that taste good but it’s also really nutritious,” Popper said.

On Monday, trucks will haul the meals to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

“And they, in turn, will give it to about 4,500 food pantries all in the area,” Popper said.

Those food pantries are experienced at getting the food to people who need it.

“But the idea is that food is healthy. The food tastes good. Again, it’s really the sad thing is that 1 million meals in the community is wonderful, but all of this food wil lbe distributed in the next couple of weeks,” Popper said.