Wednesday, September 17, 2014
This is our adult mission week at our church. There are so many opportunities for people to get involved in the community. Some of the things were:
--Working with Habitat for Humanity
--Helping at elementary schools in the neighborhood
--Volunteering at the local food bank (which we do year round)
--Neighborhood projects (we took flyers around to the neighbors asking if there were any maintenance type jobs we could do for them)
--We collected gently used office wear for folks who had job interviews and needed something nice to wear
--Putting together bags of toiletries for the homeless shelters
--Dividing and boxing up over $1000 worth of school supplies that were donated for local schools
There were other things. But last night was one of the greatest experiences I think I've ever had. We were working with an international relief organization called Stop Hunger Now! The founder of this organization realized that keeping kids in poverty ridden countries in school was the best chance they had to break that cycle. And the best way to keep them coming to school every day was to provide them with a hot meal.
According to the rep from Stop Hunger Now, there are about 7 billion people in the world. 1 billion of these folks live on less than $1.25 per day. Of that 1 billion, around 25,000 die everyday from hunger related issues. Of those, around 11,000 are children under the age of ten, children that never had a chance.
It's tempting to just throw up your hands and say that there's just not enough food to feed 7 billion people. However, according to Stop Hunger Now, that's just not the case. There is enough food in the world to feed every single person over 4 pounds of food per day for the rest of their lives. FOUR POUNDS. As our rep mentioned, that's like eating 17 quarter pounders from McDonalds everyday.
So the problem isn't the amount of food, it's access to the food. This is where organizations like Stop Hunger Now come in, by bringing the food to the people who need it most. And because they buy product in LARGE quantities, one meal bag (which feeds 6 people) can be assembled for 29 cents.
The process we used to put these meals together was pretty cool. Six tables were set up with four stations and a big funnel. First the "funnel captain" attached a meal bag to the bottom of the funnel. Once that was done, a packet of essential vitamins was put into the funnel. (This combination of vitamins was prepared by North Carolina State University to supply malnourished kids with what they need most.) After the vitamins, next came a level cup of soy. That was my son's job at our table, and man, I've never seen (or smelled) so much soy! Next came a heaping scoop of dehydrated vegetables, followed by a level cup of rice, my station.
Once the rice was in, the funnel captain removed the bag and gave it to a runner, who took it over to another person, who weighed it and heat sealed it, before sending it off to be boxed. The end result is a fortified meal product. When the meals get to their destination, the people who cook them open the bags, put in the vitamin packets, add locally available protein sources, and local spices to complete the meal. They cooked a pot of it while we worked so we got to taste it. Surprisingly, it was pretty good. With meat and seasonings in it, it would have been wonderful.
It normally takes 40 people 2 hours to bag 10,000 meals, but last night we had 62 volunteers and we did 10,800 meals in 75 minutes. We would have done more but we ran out of soy product.
It was such a trip to see everyone working together, laughing, talking, and doing their jobs, and knowing that this food was going to keep some kids coming back to school. According to our organizer from Stop Hunger Now!, these boxes are going to be going to Haiti at the end of October.
All I can say is that my husband, my son, and I were walking about three inches of the ground when we left there last night. We really felt like we'd contributed something to the world.
So if any of you guys have churches, businesses, civic organizations, or any large groups of any kind and want to make your volunteer time count for something, this is a terrific organization to look into. Here's the link:
And here's a picture of one of the tables working away.
Like those funky hair nets? We had to wear gloves, too.