Local volunteers pack meals for hungry children in distant lands

As many people flocked to the beach or a golf course this past weekend, with sunny days and temperatures in the high 80s, volunteers at Ocean View Presbyterian Church were packing meals for the hungry. In as little as 90 minutes, more than 10,000 meals were packaged for destinations in either Haiti or Uganda.

Coastal Point • Monica Scott: Sam Jones, 8, seals a packed bag of food for hungry children.Coastal Point • Monica Scott
Sam Jones, 8, seals a packed bag of food for hungry children.

Chris Franklin of Stop Hunger Now’s Philadelphia region headed the event for about 40 volunteers. He explained that it was important for the volunteers to remember that not only would each bag of meals feed children, but it would provide them with a better life.

“There are six meals in this one bag,” he said, holding up a 13.8-ounce bag filled with rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables and a flavoring mix enriched with vitamins and minerals. “And for children, many times, they can’t even eat the one-cup serving, so it translates into 10 to 12 meals for them. It’s important to remember it is more than food: This becomes a bag of hope.”

Franklin told a story of two boys in Malawi who walk four miles to school every day because their mother knows they will get a hot meal there.

“It helps them concentrate. They are physically being fed, but they are also able to get their education and get out of the cycle of poverty,” said Franklin.

According to their Web site, Stop Hunger Now has “perfected the assembly process that combines rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables and a flavoring mix including 21 essential vitamins and minerals into small meal packets.”

Each of the meals only costs 25 cents and it stores easily, for up to five years. They work with international partners that ship and distribute the meals in the destination country, primarily to support school feeding programs but also for crisis relief.

Volunteers participating in last weekend’s packing session each had a station — some measuring out the food into bags, others weighing the bags and either adding or removing rice so they are all uniform in weight. Still others sealed the bags, carried them to tables to be counted and then, finally, the volunteers put them in boxes to be placed on the truck and shipped. More than 10,000 meals were packaged from about 2:30 to 4 p.m.

For more information on Stop Hunger Now and how to volunteer, visit stophungernow.org or visit Ocean View Presbyterian Church at www.ovpc.org.