HAGERSTOWN, Ind. – Each day, more than 14,400 children die of starvation around the world.
With this reality in mind, 625 volunteers – including members and friends of 17 United Methodist churches* in East Central Indiana, the East District of the Indiana Conference, area Future Farmers of America chapters and community residents – came together Saturday, Feb. 8, to assemble 155,520 one-pound food packets that will eventually feed up to 933,000 adults and children in Indiana and Guatemala.
The food-packing event was held at the Hagerstown Elementary School gym and orchestrated by Kids Against Hunger of Greenwood, Ind., a nonprofit corporation and one of 30 satellites of Kids Against Hunger in the United States and Canada (www.kah-greenwood.org) dedicated to the mission of alleviating hunger around the world.
Ron Pierce, Kids Against Hunger Event Manager, provided the 50-pound bags of food totaling more than 70 tons used during the event.
The Rev. Rodney Frieden, pastor of First United Methodist Church of Hagerstown, led the event with seven team members. Other sponsors besides The United Methodist Church included Harvest Land Co-op and District 9 of the Future Farmers of America. DuPont and Pioneer corporations provided t-shirts for each volunteer. Reid Hospital and Health Care Services of Richmond provided hospitality.
Decked in hairnets and beard nets (for men who wore beards) the volunteers worked in three two-hour shifts at up to 14 assembly lines each with 15 volunteers to put the 13.3-ounce packets together.
Each packet contained meals to combat starvation and contained fortified soy, textured vegetable protein, long-grain rice and 21 essential vitamins and minerals. When cooked with six cups of water, each packet will feed up to six people with a simple but sustainable meal.
During the three orientation sessions held in the school cafeteria, Frieden told group of volunteers, “How thankful we are for the abundance we have (in America). We are doing good as an expression of God’s love to us.”
Frieden also expressed his gratitude to members of the community who were not United Methodists and invited those who had no contact to a church to seek him out during the event to talk about the Christian faith and The United Methodist Church.
The first 40,000 meals assembled went to local food pantries in Greenfield, Connersville, Winchester, Middletown, Muncie, Richmond and Hagerstown. The remaining packets will be shipped to Mission Guatemala, an Indiana-based United Methodist mission headed by the Rev. Tom Heaton, founder and executive director.
Heaton came to Hagerstown from Guatemala to be part of the event.
He said, “Guatemala has the fourth highest rate of malnutrition in the world and the highest rate in Latin America and the Caribbean…
“The organization’s philosophy is based on John Wesley’s teaching (founder of Methodism) to ‘do all the good you can,’” he said.
Heaton explained to volunteers during the orientation session that Mission Guatemala collaborates with parents of children in individual communities to provide more than 1,500 children with a lunch that is healthy and nutritious at their schools. The food will be used in the feeding program in Nueva Esperanza, which provides more than 100 children with a healthy and nutritious lunch five days a week. Another feeding program in Pacaman provides lunches to an additional 60 children. Mission Guatemala hopes to feed 500 children each day this year.
According to Pierce, the cases bound for Guatemala would be placed on pallets and stored at Celadon Logistics warehouse in Indianapolis until a 40-foot shipping container could be attained for shipment to Guatemala.
This is the third year for the Hagerstown event. Frieden said the idea began two years ago with 15 people wanting to do something about hunger in a big way. Their goal was feeding 3,000 people. Their first event was May 2012, when 75 volunteers packed 48,000 meals.
This past year in May 2013, 200 volunteers assembled 53,000 meals.
This year, Frieden said the group wanted to do something on a grander scale, so they invited more churches, the FFA, plus community groups and area corporate sponsors to make contributions. The project cost $48,000, which includes the cost of the food, event costs and the cost of shipping a container of meals to Mission Guatemala. Planners also shifted the date to February to eliminate many conflicting events during May.
For more information about the event, contact Frieden at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 765-489-4558.
NOTE: A Kid’s Against Hunger food packing event will be held at the Indiana Annual Conference Session Saturday after the Ordination/Consecration service, May 31. Click here to read more.
*United Methodist churches participating included: Middletown, Middletown Honey Creek, Richmond First, Economy, Greens Fork, Fountain City, Milton, Cambridge City, Winchester, Muncie College Avenue, College Corner, Hagerstown First, Connersville First, Connersville Grace, Columbia Park, Richmond Central and Straughn Salem.
More than 600 volunteers assembled 155,520 one-pound food packets using up to 14 lines in the Hagerstown Elementary School gymnasium.
Each packet contained fortified soy, textured vegetable protein, long-grain rice and 21 essential vitamins and minerals.