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