How does the packaging process work?

Illini Fighting Hunger facilitators always provide a full tutorial at the beginning of every packaging event. However, if you want to get ahead of the game or are just curious about how the process works, we’ve outlined the process for our casserole packaging projects here. We also facilitate single-ingredient packaging projects, which are effectively the same (just with one ingredient, like rice or pinto beans, instead of four!)

The following process takes place in every packaging line at a packaging event, although it varies slightly for projects that package other products such as plain rice, beans, pasta, and oats:


Volunteer 1, who is responsible for plastic bags, should hold a bag under the funnel and clasp the corners of the bag. Volunteer 2 gets the next bag ready so there is no delay before filling the next bag.


The order of ingredients is important! Volunteer 3 places 1 level scoop of Vitamin Powder into the bag first.


Volunteer 4 then places 1 level scoop of vegetables into the bag.


Volunteer 5 then places 1 level cup of Soy Protein into the bag.


Finally, Volunteer 6 places 1 level cup of Rice into the bag.


Volunteer 1 then carefully removes the bag from under the funnel and places it into a box sitting between the ingredient boxes and the scales.


Volunteers 7 and 8 will pick up a filled bag and place it on the scale. Rice should be removed or added to ensure that the bag weighs between 390 and 400 grams. This is the reason why rice is added last – so small amounts can be added or removed as needed.


Volunteer 7 or 8 then places the bag in a bin sitting between the scales and the sealer.


The heat sealer should be set to a heat level of 3. Volunteer 9 takes the bag from the box and flattens it to release as much air from the bag as possible. The bag is then placed in the heat sealer so that the bag will be sealed halfway between the top of the label and the top of the bag.


Volunteer 10 then presses down on the heat sealer arm and holds it until the red light turns off (approximately 3 seconds). Check that the seal is complete and strong.


Volunteer 11 organizes the bags into three rows with six bags in each row stacked two-high (or whatever arrangement helps to count exactly 36 completed bags. These bags are then loaded into the box which is taped shut and sent to the staging area to be placed on a pallet for shipping.