St. Michael’s rises against hunger

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By JP Phillips, Staff Writer, The Times

Some of the many volunteers who gathered at St. Michael’s Sunday to prepare meals, including Asst. Pastor Adrienne Meier, on the right.

EAST MARLBOROUGH — October 22 was a picture-perfect day; 70 degrees, sunny, low humidity with a clear blue sky.  Many spent what could be the last Indian summer Sunday of the year enjoying the outdoors. But instead, members of Unionville’s St. Michael’s Lutheran Church donned hairnets and gloves to help those in need.

Rise Against Hunger partnered with St. Michaels to help feed children living in food-deprived countries.  St. Michael’s provided the donation to purchase the food, the hall, the tables, and the volunteers. Assistant Community Engagement Manager LaToya Gillyard brought the van, sacks of ingredients, boxes, food-handling garb, music, gong, and enthusiasm.

Matthew McQueen getting ready to strike the gong representing another 2,000 lives impacted.

The hall was filled with long tables, music, and approximately 100 pairs of busy hands.  Every 2,000th meal assembled was recognized by a strike of the gong, an audible symbol for how many lives they are changing by their work.  It was always accompanied by enthusiastic whoops and applause from the volunteers.

It started a few months ago when Assistant Pastor Adrianne Meier assembled a team to coordinate the effort.  They distributed small plastic jugs during services for parishioners to collect loose change.

They collected $6,000.  Rise Against Hunger used that money to purchase large sacks of rice, soy, and dried vegetables to be assembled into meals that will be distributed by partner agencies where they are most needed.

High schooler Rachael Stone and Rise Against Hunger representative LaToya Gillyard.

Rise Against Hunger works with agencies in forty-seven countries mostly in Africa, Asia, and Europe where devastating food shortages chronically exist (a link to their site is at the end of this article).

Unionville freshman Rachael Stone explained the assembly-line process to me.  The first group of tables puts the rice and beans into 6-portion-sized bags.  The next group weighs the bags and adds/subtracts as necessary to arrive at a predetermined weight, and then adds a nutrient packet.  The next group seals the bags.  The last group packs the bags into boxes, which are loaded onto the van.

Church volunteers filling the bags.

Gillyard has been to Nicaragua to see the food delivered and distributed.  The partner agency usually adds local items, prepares it, and serves it to those in need.

Meier remarked that this event is great because it involves all generations.  “We have a first grader here, and some octogenarians,” she said.

Most of the volunteers were young teenagers, pulled from St. Michael’s and the Kennett Square’s Church of the Advent youth groups (they have a shared ministry).

Cost for the rice, beans, and vegetables for one meal is just twenty-nine cents.  Kraft Heinz donated the nutrient packets.

This year, St. Michael’s assembled double what they accomplished last year. 20,088 meals were assembled on that glorious, potentially last perfect Indian summer day, October 22.

That’s a lot of lives changed.

Rise Against Hunger website link:  http://www.riseagainsthunger.org/

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