UMNS photo by Bob Merkle
Men and women in Lynchburg, Va. package Stop Hunger Now packets for Haiti
Over the past ten years, some 35,000 United Methodists in the U.S. have packaged 6.5 million Stop-Hunger-Now packs in 218 congregations and 418 packaging events. A total of $1.4 million has been raised to pay for the dry-food ingredients and shipping costs to hunger-relief programs around the world.
Stop Hunger Now, a Raleigh, N.C.-based organization, provides opportunities for volunteers to package dehydrated, high-protein nutritious meals to be used in crisis situations and in school and orphanages in developing countries.
After boiling with water for 10 minutes, the package of rice, soy meal and vitamins will feed six people for only 25 cents each. The packet has a five-year shelf life.
The effort is supported by the Commission on United Methodist Men and the men’s affiliate of the World Methodist Council.
Larry Malone, a staff executive with the Commission on United Methodist Men and president of the World Fellowship of Methodist and Uniting Church Men, recently visited South Korea and the Philippines where men in each nation are working to establish distribution centers for the hunger packets.
A Stop Hunger Now “sharehouse” facility was recently established in South Africa. The 2011 World Methodist Conference will be held in Durban South Africa, and a Stop Hunger Now packaging event will be held during the August assembly.
“Nearly 11 million children under age 5 die in developing countries,” says Malone. “Every six seconds a child dies of hunger and this tragedy is preventable.”
Gil Hanke, top staff executive of the Commission on United Methodist Men, noted that many units of United Methodist Men have long-established commitments to feed the hungry, locally and nationally, and he celebrated the opportunity to address hunger internationally. “I have some personal experience seeing the damage to children caused by malnutrition in Third World countries, and the dangerous decisions made by parents in attempts to feed their children,” said Hanke. “Stop Hunger Now provides us a hands-on opportunity to create a packet of food, of hope, of connection with other members of the family of God.”
Hanke has led 18 trips to Haiti to provide hearing aids for children with hearing impairments. He has also taken eight trips to Costa Rica, and one trip to Tomsk, Siberia.
“I believe John Wesley would heartily endorse Stop Hunger Now,” said Reginald Ponder, chair of the Board of Directors of the international effort to eliminate hunger in our lifetime. “United Methodist congregations have probably held more food packaging events than all other groups combined.”
The organization was founded by Ray Buchanan, a United Methodist clergyman who serves as president. Rod Brooks a United Methodist lay person, serves a chief executive officer.