By Liz Nolan, Contributing Writer
Northborough – Sixty volunteers arrived at Trinity Church on the morning of May 13 with a mission to pack 10,000 meals in two hours to benefit Rise Against Hunger, a movement to end world hunger by 2030. The Northboro Junior Woman’s Club (NJWC) sponsored the meal packaging event and met their goal of packaging 10,152 meals.
Rise Against Hunger, formerly Stop Hunger Now, was started in 1998 and the meal packaging program was launched in 2005. The program is a hands-on international hunger relief program and uses an assembly line method for volunteers to package highly nutritious, dehydrated meals, which include rice, soy, vegetables, and 23 essential vitamins and minerals. Each bag provides a meal for six people.
Rise Against Hunger New England office representative Marc Vermouth became involved with the organization more than three years ago as he made a career change and realized he missed working with volunteers toward a global societal issue.
“We do these events with all types of groups,” he said. “I have done a take-your-kids-to-work day, middle and high schools, and church groups of all ages. We are even doing a birthday party for someone who is asking their friends to donate for their 40th birthday and friends and family will come together to package.”
NJWC member Mary Kemp was instrumental in coordinating the event in Northborough, somewhat curious as to how 40 people could pack 10,000 meals in two hours.
The event, though, was an effort of many.
NJWC member Neeta Karanjakar explained that there was a fundraising component to hosting the event. Essentially the group pays for the meals they will package and fundraising efforts started in January.
“The meals cost 29 cents each to package and we did have to raise $3,000,” said Kemp. “The Northborough Lions Club and NJWC both contributed $1,000 and we raised about an additional $1,500 from churches, Knights of Columbus and individual donations. We also did a fundraiser at Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza.”
There were plenty of volunteers to help including the Boy Scouts who facilitated the set up in the morning, as well as members of local groups and churches.
It is that energy and enthusiasm that others show for the cause that Vermouth sees at the meal packaging events.
“When people get excited about the idea of ending hunger in our lifetime, they want to get involved, and seeing how we have grown over my three-and-a-half years is a testament to people caring deeply. Our volunteers make our events successful. If a group supplies the space, tables, volunteers, and funding for the meals, we take care of the rest.”
Although Vermouth didn’t know exactly where the packaged meals from this event would be shipped yet, he did say they that they ship in 285,120 meal increments which is a full 40-foot shipping container with over 42,000 pounds of food.
The container makes its way across the sea to one of the countries where Rise Against Hunger Impact Partners operate their programs. The meals are then distributed at schools, orphanages, clinics or vocational centers.
Additional information on Rise Against Hunger can be found at www.riseagainsthunger.org. Anyone wishing to host a meal packaging event should call Vermouth at 508-251-9966.
“The best way to go about it is to involve a few different groups building a coalition, spreading the fundraising efforts, and getting more people excited about the mission and vision,” he said.