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Local church works to end hunger

 

By Melissa Robinson
Contributing Editor 

  Amid a scene of white hairnets and plastic gloves, members of McDonough Presbyterian Church came together last week for a group project that involved packaging 11,000 meals to be sent around the world to help feed the hungry, but more importantly, to be a factor in stopping hunger.

  This is the second year that church members partnered with Stop Hunger Now and its meal-packaging program, where members of an organization get together and package easy to prepare meals for those in need in other countries.

Members of McDonough Presbyterian Church pack meals to be shipped to countries around the world in partnership with Stop Hunger Now. This is the church’s second year participating in the project.                                   Photo by Melissa Robinson

  Stop Hunger Now has been in existence since 1998 and has been packaging and shipping meals since 2005. The organization operates meal packaging locations in 18 cities throughout the U.S. and international locations in South Africa, Malaysia, and Italy, with two new locations slated to open in Texas in 2013.

  Destiny Williams, youth minister at McDonough Presbyterian, said the church’s youth group first became involved with Stop Hunger Now last year after learning about the organization at a youth conference.

  “We learned about the organization at a youth conference that we attended, and we decided it would be a great way to kick off Wednesday night programming,” she said. “What’s also great is that it’s intergenerational, so ages 3 to 103 can come and help. It’s very easy and they have a lot of fun packing the food on an assembly line.”

  Williams said that approximately 100 volunteers showed up to pack the nutritious, inexpensive, easy-to-prepare meals. She said that last year, church members packed 10,000 meals and it was so successful that they wanted to top that number this year.

  Michael Ashley, Stop Hunger Now’s Assistant Program Manager for the Atlanta area, describes the event as a mobile meal-packaging program.

  “We come to the volunteer group that wants to host the meal packaging event and we work with schools, churches, corporate events, civic groups-- really anybody who wants to have a service project like this,” he said. “They raise the money for the amount of meals that they package, so it’s 25 cents per meal and McDonough Presbyterian raised enough money to package 11,000 meals tonight.”

  The inexpensive meal can feed up to six people and consists of four dehydrated ingredients that are sealed into a bag, boxed and shipped to one of 37 participating countries. The meal combines rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables and a flavoring mix including 21 essential vitamins and minerals into small meal packets. The food stores easily, has a shelf life of two years and transports quickly.

  “It’s a way to get people involved in the fight against hunger, because obviously we could have machines do this to the milligram but that would be missing the point,” said Ashley. “We want people to have a physical, tangible experience and get involved in an easy way for people to serve and make a difference, and then hopefully the goal is that they would become passionate and active about fighting hunger for the rest of their lives.”

  Stop Hunger Now is a faith founded, international hunger relief organization that ships many of the meals to schools. Ashley said that if a school feeds children, parents in the countries they serve are more likely to send their children for an education instead of off to work or beg. He said they also ship meals to a myriad of different outlets, including orphanages, vocational training centers, maternal clinics and elderly care centers.

  He said they are always willing to partner with organizations that are looking for a way to make a difference in ending hunger globally.

  “We work with corporations, public school, private schools and churches. We feel the fight against hunger is so big, it requires everyone,” said Ashley.

  For more information or to host a meal-packing event for your organization, group or church, visit www.stophungernow.org.

 

 

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