Lenten initiative


31,000 meals to end hunger

Four teams of members from our congregation joined with other United Methodist churches  and other community organizations on Saturday to prepare vacuumed-sealed meals as part of a “End Hunger” Lenten project.

The teams gathered throughout the day at the Thornton Heights United Methodist Church in South Portland and worked two-hour shifts, preparing fortified rice and bean meals.


Rosa Larrabee prepares to load rice into one of the food pouches.

Each team worked in a production line of filling plastic pouches with specific amounts of dehydrated vegetables, soy, beans, rice, and a vitamin/seasoning packets, each of which was adjusted to weigh exactly 13.8 ounces. The pouches were then vacuumed-sealed and packed in corrugated boxes to be shipped to food banks, pantries, schools, disaster relief sites and other organizations throughout the country, including some here in Maine, such as Judy’s Pantry.


Money was raised in all of the churches to purchase the food products for Saturday’s packing.  Thornton Heights’ Cori Heatley, who coordinated the event with Allison Doody for the Caco Bay Cluster of UM Churches,  said donations at all churches far exceeded the goal of preparing 10,000 meals. With the final donations, which totaled $7,750, Cori said the new goal was to pack 31,000 meals — and it happened, 31,266 to be exact!

Rev. Kathleen Towns of the Thornton Heights UMC

Cori Heatley of the Thornton Heights UMC

Our church raised $1,800 during two Sunday offerings and during the Ash Wednesday service and 41 church members participated in Saturday’s food-packing at Thornton Heights. There were over 130 volunteers overall.

In addition to the four teams from our church, there were four teams from Thornton Heights, one team from the Peoples UMC, one team from the West Scarborough UMC, one team from Catherine McAuley High School and two teams from local Odd Fellows organizations.

Three teams did their work in the Thornton Heights sanctuary.

Three teams did their work in the Thornton Heights sanctuary.

Saturday’s End Hunger project was done in coordination with Outreach, Inc., in Union, Iowa. Outreach, founded in 2004, has a mission “to provide safe food, water, medical care and education to those in need at home and abroad.”


If you don’t recognize some of the people in these photos it perhaps is because you’ve never seen them in a hair nets.  All volunteers wore hair nets, plastic gloves and in some cases, beard coverings to follow health guidelines for the project — although in some cases, it might have been a fashion statement, too.

Pat Acheson adjust one of the food bags to weight exactly 13.8 ounces.

Pat Acheson adjusting one of the food bags to weigh exactly 13.8 ounces.

The Casco Bay Cluster of UM Churches decided on the rice and bean meal for this Lenten project because it could be distributed internationally through Outreach, Inc. Locally, in addition to Judy’s Pantry at our church, the Scarborough Pantry and the South Portland Food Cupboard will be receiving boxes of vacuum-sealed meals. Each pouch will serve six people when water is added and cooked for 20 minutes.

The bulk of the boxes from Saturday’s event will be picked up by the Good Shepherd Food Bank for shipment to Outreach, Inc. in Iowa.

Ann Daggett and Jaymie Chamberlin had plenty of youthful assistance for their afternoon session of packing.
Ann Daggett and Jaymie Chamberlin had plenty of youthful assistance for their afternoon session of packing.
Eric Higley packs 36 of the food packets into a corrugated box for shipping.

Eric Higley loads one of the 11 boxes his team finished.

More soy is loaded for the packers to fill individual meal bags.

Caden Lamoglia took turns loading vegetables, rice and beans.

Click here for more images of Saturday’s “End Hunger” event:


Carol Haider and the Rev. Ruth Morrison receive words of encouragement from event coordinator Cori Heatley.


The Rev. Jim Young was very precise with his measuring of rice.


Linda Wakefield also had the responsibility of weighing the pouches.


Gail Parker, Belinda Parker and Nancy Johnson were part of one of the fastest teams, which also included Pat and Lili Acheson, Eric Higley, Dominic, Alex and Kevin Morin.


Duane Wakefield (center) was part of one of the second shift teams.


Categories: General