On Dec. 10, 2005, 50 volunteers formed an assembly line at a Raleigh warehouse for Stop Hunger Now’s inaugural meal packaging event. Those volunteers packaged 20,000 meals to feed people suffering from hunger.
In the 10 years since, we have enlisted hundreds of thousands of volunteers who have packaged over 225 million meals at 19 locations in the U.S. and six more abroad. The Raleigh warehouse alone has packaged over 33 million meals, including nearly 4.6 million meals packaged last year by over 29,000 people at 278 meal packaging events.
To mark the 10th anniversary of our meal packaging program, Stop Hunger Now will host an event at its Raleigh warehouse on December 12, 2015, that is expected to attract several hundred volunteers who will package over 100,000 meals. To register to attend, click here.
Initially developed to help provide rapid relief for disasters, meal packaging now is part of a larger strategy to help boost education and sustainable development in impoverished regions of the world. Stop Hunger Now distributes meals through schools, orphanages, health clinics, vocational training programs and, increasingly, through programs that focus on women’s health, women’s education and maternal & fetal health.
“We leverage the meals so we’re not just killing hunger pains but transforming lives and society,” says Darron Stover, Raleigh program manager for Stop Hunger Now. As a member of Fairmont United Methodist Church in Raleigh, which housed Stop Hunger Now for over 11 years starting shortly after it was formed in 1998, Stover participated in the inaugural meal packaging event. He then quickly volunteered to help organize and coordinate other meal packaging events. A year ago, he joined Stop Hunger Now as a full-time employee.
The Rev. Steve Hickle was pastor at Fairmont United Methodist Church and a member of the Stop Hunger Now board of directors at the time of the first meal packaging event. “We’re building a movement to end hunger,” says Hickle, who now is Faith Outreach Director for Stop Hunger Now. He has developed partnerships with over 30 Christian faith groups and eight other faith groups in the movement to end world hunger.
Meal packaging provides a highly visible point of entry for people to get involved in eradicating hunger, which affects nearly 800 million people, down from one billion 20 years ago, Hickle says. “By offering this experience, we’re having an impact on education and development in many places,” he says. “We’re one piece of a growing movement, and we invite others to join with us in any place they can help end world hunger.”
Grab your family and friends (all ages welcome!) and join us for the 10th-anniversary commemoration in Raleigh. Click below to save your spot!
– See more at: http://www.stophungernow.org/10-years-225-million-meals-and-counting/#sthash.aMgLtrQa.dpuf
Our entire United Methodist VIM team has now made it safely back home with one exception…me. I am still in Raleigh for meetings, but I hope to be home in Virginia by early evening.
The trip home from South Sudan was uneventful (brutally long, totally exhausting and sleepless, but uneventful). And that is about all that can be said for it. For future reference, however, having an 11 hour layover in Entebbe after our first flight really makes the remainder of the trip seem much longer. And having a middle seat for the 19 hours of flights afterward doesn’t help much either.
But after a long hot shower and a night’s rest I cannot wait to begin working on the next steps on all the possible projects we discovered. The need is so great. But the need is matched with tremendous opportunities to make a positive difference in the lives of thousands.
We can help transform the future of those living in poverty and hunger in South Sudan. We can help change the history of a nation. That’s exciting stuff.
Our trip is now officially over. Now the hard work begins: translating the vision of what is possible into a reality that is reflected in a transformed world.
I cannot wait to begin.
Joice Jana is the head of the microfinance project for the Yei District of the United Methodist Church in South Sudan. I had the opportunity to talk with her on Monday. She is passionate about her work and the success of the program and rightfully so.
She manages 10 separate microfinance groups in 7 different communities, each group comprised of 35 members. Three-fourths of the members are women. And although the program has not been existence for long the success stories are already beginning to pile up.
The microfinance program provides education to the groups and helps with record keeping. All the funds come from the individual members of each group. Once a member has been in the program for a full year they are allowed to apply for loans. When a member needs a loan they are allowed to borrow up to 3 times the amount they have already saved.
All loans are repaid with 10% interest. And the repayment rate is over 98%.
The maximum loan given to date is 1500 South Sudanese Pounds and the smallest has been 200 pounds. (The largest loan was about $100 and the smallest about $13).
These loans have helped pay school fees to keep children in school. They have helped begin small businesses that have increased food security. They have provided an important bridge to a better life. They have provided hope.
Helping support such programs is a powerful way to help transform the lives of those trying to have a better life. I am proud of the United Methodist Church’s leadership in making this happen in South Sudan.
Ending hunger in our lifetime will transform the world. And it will happen by each of us simply doing what we can right where we are using the resources we have available.
Working together we are creating a global movement of heroes who care enough to do whatever is necessary to see that the hungry are fed and that justice is done for all our human family. Every word we speak, every action we take brings us closer to the day when hunger is just a memory.
Thank you for caring enough to act. Thank you for speaking out on behalf of the poor and the hungry. Thank you for helping change the world. You are a hero.
Stop Hunger Now will provide over 60 million meals this year to our partners around the world. Here is a brief update on the meals we are distributing in Madagascar.
Partner Highlight – Madagascar
Stop Hunger Now has been shipping meals to Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) Madagascar since 2013. We recently received this update from the field.
This is a easy, short and powerful story to share with volunteers, donors and supporters.
“The rate of absenteeism has decreased by 100% in two schools as a result of meal program with Stop Hunger Now. The school exam results have also improved greatly. When asked who liked their food, everyone raised their hand!” via ADRA Madagascar
Sometimes during the excitement and joy of celebrating the deep beauty of this special season we forget those of our family whose circumstances cry out for the presence of the One whose birth we celebrate. This Christmas Prayer from the METHODIST FEDERATION FOR SOCIAL ACTION is a powerful reminder that we are all called to become love incarnate. Transformed and empowered by the Holy Spirit, each of us are called to reach out to those most in need.
We are called to play the good Samaritan on life’s roadside; but that will only be the initial act. One day…the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It understands that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr
I call this transformation crossing the bridge from compassion to justice. It’s not enough to respond to the sight of the poor and hungry with a reactionary gift. It’s not enough to even give regularly to help feed and care for those we know are in need.
Both are good. And both make a real difference. But neither is what is truly needed.
An infection cannot be cured with bandaids.
We can end hunger in our lifetime. We can change the world forever. But to do so requires more than compassion.
Ending hunger in our lifetime requires us to take the bone away from the dog. It requires us to confront the systems that oppress the poor and hungry and say ” Enough. No more.”
We can transform the Jericho Road. It just requires justice.