On April 9th, 2017, 97 volunteers from St. James and St. Paul AME gathered in the Hogan Room for a 10,000 meal packing event sponsored by Rise Against Hunger. Rise Against Hunger (formerly Stop Hunger Now) is an organization committed to ending worldwide hunger by 2030. The organization provides nutritious meals to those in need around the globe, especially in schools, orphanages and medical clinics; RAH also responds to crisis situations and develops sustainable ways to empower communities.
St. James and St. Paul partnered for two purposes: to facilitate unity in our local community, and to lessen hunger in our greater global community. Our planning committee was comprised of members of both churches who worked diligently for two months to plan an evening of education, service, food, fellowship and worship. Some members put together hunger awareness posters with artifacts from different parts of the world to decorate the walls and make the room festive for the occasion.
Our afternoon started before the packing; RAH brought all of the necessary supplies. Some of the supplies, such as 50 lb. bags of rice, were too heavy for most of our volunteers, so firemen from a local fire department came early to help. After volunteer registration and set-up, the RAH spokeswoman gave us her company’s origins, explaining the burden of extreme poverty on so much of our global community. She also went through the packing procedure. Many volunteers were skeptical that we could pack 10,000 meals, but RAH has the process down to an effective, organized assembly line. It was wonderful to work alongside members of St. Paul, assisting one another when someone ran out of rice, or the weighing scales reset, or when we couldn’t quite get the sealers to seal. There was so much cooperation in working together toward our goal. Children from both churches served as runners, taking unsealed bags between tables; they loved running around the room, and were so careful in getting the unsealed bags from place to place without spilling the contents.
The packing only took about 1 ½ hours or a bit more. Even the planning committee was surprised that we would finish in such a short time, but we did. Both churches worked on cleaning the tables, sweeping rice off of the floor, moving the boxes of packed meals to the truck, and rearranging the tables. We then had a dinner of soup, salad, bread and desserts. Different members of St. James made chicken soup and vegetable soup, and brought salads. St. Paul provided us with two tables of many delicious desserts.
After dinner, Rev. Dr. Byron Grayson and Rev. Kathryn Costas held a short worship service, reminding us that feeding the hungry as we have just done is an example of Jesus in our modern world. St. Paul’s wonderful, talented choir sang for us, and we took communion together.
Our RAH meal packing event with St. Paul was a fantastic afternoon of service and fellowship. Thank you to all of the volunteers who came to pack, and who made food for dinner. Special thank you’s to: Fire Department, Rev. Dr. Grayson, Rev. Costas, the planning committee (Jennifer, Barbara, Joan, Freda, Rebecca, Annette, Betty, Gloria, Teige), and a very special thank you to Jennie, who made this event possible through a lot of work and coordination.