This past Saturday my best friend Sanne invited Emily and me to join her and her son Benjamin at a Stop Hunger Now event. The event was being held at the church preschool where her older two sons attended and her youngest currently does. We were both thrilled that they allowed kids ages 6+ to participate, and signed up to help!
The church had signed up to host the event, and had set a goal of packaging 40,000 – 45,000 meals in 2 hours. They raised $.29 a meal, and the Stop Hunger Now relief agency came with all the supplies necessary to pack the meals. Each meal serves 6 people and contains rice, soy, and a flavor mix of vitamins and minerals. The job was simple: fill the bags with the ingredients, seal them, and box them up for delivery.
Sanne, Benjamin, Emily and I were stationed at a long table with blue bins, scales, containers of rice, spoons, and white baskets. Across from those (at the same tables) were bag sealers with white buckets on the floor beside each seat. Benjamin and Sanne sat at sealing stations, while Emily and I started off at the scales. Behind us were more tables, which had huge bins of rice, soy, and the vitamin packets, as well as clear bins (like the blue bins on our tables) and the bags to put the meals into.
The process was very smooth and easy to understand. The volunteers at the table behind us would fill the bag with the vitamin packet, soy, and a scoop of rice. Then those bags would be put into the clear bins, and volunteers would bring those clear bins over to our table. The volunteers at the scales would then take a meal bag and place it in the white basket on the scale. The meal bag needed to weigh between 389-394 grams, so we would use the spoons and our small containers of rice to put more rice in (or remove rice) so that it weighed the right amount. Then we would place the weighed bags into the blue bins, and the volunteers seated at the sealers would seal the bags shut and place them in the buckets on the floor. Other volunteers would come and remove the sealed bags from the buckets and take them to still another table, where they would be placed in boxes for shipping.
Someone would ring a gong every time we had boxed up 1,000 meals. We assumed that since one bag feeds 6 people, each bag was counted as 6 meals, equating to roughly 167 bags filled every time the gong sounded. They didn’t explain it explicitly, but based on how frequently they rang the gong it’s the only logical explanation. Our final total? 49,500 meals!
It was really quite a lot of fun, and there was rice EVERYWHERE. The four of us switched jobs off and on, so each of us had a chance to be the weighers and the sealers. Benjamin and Emily did really well, although they definitely were starting to get tired of the repetitiveness of the work about an hour and a half in. It really proved to be a bit of an educational experience for them too, as they had to measure, determine if the weight was accurate, and follow a multi-step process. And of course, there was the knowledge that our meals were going to be delivered to families in a less-fortunate country.
I’m definitely going to keep my ears open for another opportunity to serve as a volunteer for one of these events. Emily enjoyed it, and I love that she had a safe and age-appropriate way to demonstrate God’s love for others, as well as the experience of sacrificing her time and fun for someone less fortunate. We’ll be praying for the families who will be receiving these meals over the next week as a way to extend the experience a little further.
For more information on this organization, visit http://www.stophungernow.org/