Following its regular service Sunday, The Presbyterian Church in Bowling Green hosted an international outreach that involved packaging almost 90,000 meals in partnership with the organization Rise Against Hunger.
With Rise Against Hunger providing materials and food, The Presbyterian Church had to provide the manpower.
“Rise Against Hunger is a humanitarian aid organization, and what we do is we facilitate getting life-saving aid to people who are chronically malnourished all over the world,” said Andy Morris, community engagement coordinator for Rise Against Hunger. More than 800 million “people on Earth are chronically malnourished. We partner with organizations all over the world that have feeding programs in schools, adult education programs, places that are hit by natural disasters and refugee camps. Our partners take the meals that we package here today and cook those and feed those as the base for people who are chronically malnourished.”
Sunday was the first time The Presbyterian Church has participated, Youth Director David Clarke said.
“We have taken on a Matthew 25 idea of congregation, which is looking at eradicating poverty. We thought this would be a good way to tackle this issue,” Clarke said. “For us, one of our church missions is to share the vitality of Christ and love into the world, and I think this gives us the opportunity to do that. ... We can have that chance to fellowship while we do this and reach out to the world around us in whatever way we can do that.”
Presbyterian Church Pastor Matthew Covington said congregants do not know where the food they packaged will end up. Each package contains multiple meals, he said, and are designed so that some time can pass before the food is eaten, meaning some of the packages could be delivered internationally.
Morris said the meals have benefits beyond simple nutrition – for instance, they can help people finish their education or maintain jobs.
“It lets people turn around and be able to work in their community so they can hopefully lift themselves out of poverty,” he said.
Rise Against Hunger’s goal is to eradicate world hunger by 2030, which Morris said is an obtainable goal.
“As the millennium flipped over, a whole new set of developed goals were set by the United Nations, and most of those are targeted by 2030,” he said. “We could end hunger today. The problem is not the amount of food, the problem is not everyone realizes that there are people that are hungry.”
Rise Against Hunger operates 23 offices in the United States and 12 internationally, and the organization just recently packaged its 500 millionth meal.
“We have been doing this since 2005 and the Nashville office alone does about 80 events a year and packages about 1.5 or 1.6 million meals,” Morris said. “Last year, we packaged around 1.43 million meals.”
Morris also said the organization works with more than just churches, such as corporations, schools, health groups and many others.
“We are really excited for anyone to invite us into their space and let us facilitate, which is an extremely mobile and friendly, fun meal packaging event,” he said.
– Visit www.riseagainsthunger.org for more information.
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