Ending world hunger won’t happen in a day, much less an afternoon. But Trinity Presbyterian Church invites everyone to get a clearer view of the battle — to accelerate their volunteerism during a short, fun food-packing event. Last year, for the first time, a group of 132 volunteers, working in assembly-line fashion, packed 10,360 meal bags. What’s even more astonishing: the food they packed was enough to feed nearly 65,000 people in desperate communities around the world.
Debuting the initiative was “kind of like walking into a swamp — you have no idea what to expect,” says Judi Weeter, the event’s local project coordinator. “So we just jumped in and did it, and it was hugely successful. We had set a quota of 10,000 meals, and we exceeded it in less than two hours. It’s amazing what you can do as a group.”
Each meal is loaded with nutrition, including 23 vitamins and minerals, and feeds a family of six with ingredients such as rice, soy, and dehydrated vegetables. The bags of food are stored easily, transported quickly, and have a two-year shelf life.
“Some of the food is used for emergency disaster relief in the United States,” says Weeter. “But it’s mostly distributed to impoverished nations. There are 795 million people in the world who are chronically malnourished, and this has been a very successful program.”
The local part of the project is fully funded by the Trinity Presbyterian Women, Global Missions, and Christian Nurture Ministries — and is organized in partnership with Stop Hunger Now, an international hunger-relief agency based in Raleigh. Since 1998, the nonprofit has packaged and distributed more than 180,000,000 meals to 65 countries, impacting millions of lives. The organization also sends food to schools in developing countries, which has the added benefit of helping to increase education rates and, ideally, provide a way out of poverty. That’s because parents have an added incentive to send children to school, knowing their kids will get something to eat. (Otherwise the kids may be needed to work to help feed their families.)
“This is really a community outreach,” Weeter emphasizes. “We’ve had softball teams [helping], and will have the Key Club from West Hendersonville High School. Last year we had five-year-olds being our runners, and they did a super job. We had volunteers who live with disabilities and we had 90-year-olds sealing packages. We need volunteers to register online now, so we know who we can count on to help pack these much-needed meals. We plan to pack more than 12,000.
“No matter who or what you are, there is a job for you,” adds Weeter. “And at the end, everyone feels they have made a real difference in people’s lives.”
The food-packing event at Trinity Presbyterian (900 Blythe St.) happens Saturday, March 12, 2-4pm. 828-692-6114.