Rarely, does spending a couple of hours hard at work, feel so good. At First Presbyterian Church-Bryan last night, about 130 folks of all ages pulled together to assemble, weigh, seal, pack, and load 20,002 nutritious meals for shipment to hungry people around the world.
I had three jobs. The first started soon after I arrived. The director of the evening, who had flown in from California to coordinate our event, immediately recognized my leadership skills and ability to both follow and issue complex instructions. After I donned my really cool work gear (plastic gloves and a hair net), I spent the next twenty or so minutes acting just like the high skilled airport workers who line the jumbo jets up with the jetway. Picture me (without the handheld traffic directing lights) motioning people from the hatting and gloving area to the staging area for the food stations. NO ONE GOT LOST!
The project director then (as an extra test of my qualification) asked me to estimate the number of people in our crowd, so he would know how many people to place at each work area. This was harder than it sounds, because I forgot to tag each person as they entered the staging area, and most came without their anchors, so they tended to drift around.
Once we started re-enacting the scene from "I Love Lucy" where Lucy and Ethel work on the candy company assembly line, I became a weigher. My job was to make sure each pouch of food weighed between 379 and 384 grams. I had a high-tech plastic spoon to make weight, adding or subtracting from the upper layer of rice to hit my target. I then past my pouch to an impact sealer, who ensured the food would transport without spilling and stay fresh for up to five years.
If I can bum some of the action photos taken last night during the operation, I will insert them here.
If this sounds like a more worthwhile way to spend an evening than lying on the couch watching the NCIS back-to-back-to-back marathon, you can do it too:
Stop Hunger Now is an international hunger relief agency that has been fulfilling its commitment to end hunger for more than 12 years. Since 1998, the organization has coordinated the distribution of food and other lifesaving aid to children and families in countries all over the world.
Stop Hunger Now has provided more than $70 million dollars worth of direct aid and 34 million meals to 72 countries worldwide.
Stop Hunger Now created its meal packaging program, in 2005. The program 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 meal costs only 25 cents. The food stores easily, has a shelf-life of five years and transports quickly.
Stop Hunger Now works with international partners that ship and distribute the meals in-country. Stop Hunger Now primarily ships its meals to support school feeding programs, but also provides meals to our in-country partners for crisis relief.
The packaging operation is mobile, (i.e. it can go wherever volunteers are located), and can be adapted to accommodate as few as 25 and as many as 500 volunteers at a time. One SHN packaging event can result in the packaging of more than 1,000,000 meals or product servings. The use of volunteers for product packaging has resulted in an extremely cost-effective operation while, at the same time, increasing awareness of global hunger and food insecurity issues across a broad cross-section of the US population.
Stop Hunger Now has packaged more than 34 million meals since the inception of the meal packaging program in Dec 2005. These meals have been used primarily to support school feeding programs in developing countries. Stop Hunger Now and hunger experts agree that hunger is solvable and is the common thread among the world’s most challenging issues. When hunger is targeted, specifically by supporting school feeding programs, you give leverage support to other causes including poverty, disease, education and the welfare of women and children