In August, at St. Mark’s, about 80 volunteers teamed up for a “Stop Hunger Now” meal-packaging event, preparing, in roughly two hours, more than 10,000 meals for people around the world who are in need.

Stop Hunger Now (SHN) is a Raleigh-based organization that works to “end hunger in our lifetime by providing food and life-changing aid to the world’s most vulnerable and create a global commitment to mobilize the necessary resources.”

The nucleus of SHN’s work is meal-packaging events, where volunteers take ingredients and supplies (delivered by SHN), fill bins with raw ingredients, scoop ingredients into meal bags, weigh and seal the bags, then prepare the bags for shipping.
Volunteers of all ages came to St. Mark’s to help feed people they’ll probably never meet.

Volunteers included St. Mark’s members, members’ grandchildren, out-of-town visitors, a few Charlotte-area Catholic neighbors, plus a few folks who simply wanted to volunteer. Ages of participants ranged from four to 98.

Each time 1,000 meals were prepared, someone rang a gong to celebrate the milepost.

The ultimate destinations of the meals were unknown, but each package now bears a label that declares that the people of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church care and send relief to those in need.

About 50 people stayed for lunch after the event. St. Mark’s chef Naomi Knox prepared a meal of baked chicken, seasoned vegetables, and some of the SHN mix comprised of rice, soy protein, dehydrated vegetables, and flavor-mineral seasoning that members of the St. Mark’s Seniors group had prepared earlier.

St. Mark’s member Tom Tolbert, who coordinated the event, says the event also raised more than $3,200. “We oversubscribed our financial goal by $318.03, which will serve as seed money to fund another event in summer 2017. We anticipate receiving some additional funds from Thrivent Financial and other corporate donors in the months ahead.”

Tolbert noted that the total hours volunteered equaled about a month of work business hours. “We beat our anticipated time-goal and met our piece-count goal of 10,152 meals, and did so joyfully,” he said. “The gong-ringers could not keep up with the collective rate of production. Everyone functioned as a large, extended family, cooperating on a single goal. It was a wonderful experience and many people expressed a desire to have another event next summer.”

If you would like to contribute to St. Mark’s’ Stop Hunger Now effort, click here.

For more information on Stop Hunger Now, click here.