State College

Local churches pack meals for Stop Hunger Now campaign

Barbara Korner adds some rice to a bag. Volunteers from Grace Lutheran Church and St. Paul’s United Methodist Church join together on Saturday to pack meals for the Stop Hunger Now campaign.
Barbara Korner adds some rice to a bag. Volunteers from Grace Lutheran Church and St. Paul’s United Methodist Church join together on Saturday to pack meals for the Stop Hunger Now campaign. adrey@centredaily.com

Two State College churches teamed up in an effort to help stop world hunger.

And on Saturday they were able to do their part in providing thousands of meals for a global mission organization called Stop Hunger Now that provides meals to people in poverty and/or affected by natural disaster.

42,552 meals packaged by 150 volunteers

With about 150 volunteers, members from Grace Lutheran and St. Paul’s United Methodist churches raised enough money to pack 42,552 meals.

Organizer and member of the Grace Lutheran Church congregation Lois Voigt said it took about a year to raise $12,400 by the churches to buy contents for the meals that included dehydrated rice, soy, vitamin packets and vegetables.

Fundraising came by way of donations, she said.

“There are so many efforts that take a community to help with,” she said.

Grace Lutheran Church opened its parking lot for people to park during Penn State football games. Patrons weren’t required to pay, but the church asked for donations to use the lot.

At St. Paul’s, member Bonnie Johnson, who also helped coordinate the event Saturday, said her church hosted a “Holy Bike Ride” that allowed participants to be sponsored by others. Money raised toward the Stop Hunger Now budget.

“It’s amazing the things you can do when you work together,” Johnson said.

The churches held a similar event last year that raised enough money to provide about 20,000 meals.

The goal this year was to double that number.

I wasn’t sure it was going to happen, but God provided.

Lois Voigt, event organizer and Grace Lutheran Church member

“I wasn’t sure it was going to happen, but God provided,” Voigt said.

Volunteers rotated Saturday in three, two-hour shifts.

In an assembly line-like formation, they set up at tables in a gymnasium area at Grace Lutheran Church — each with different responsibilities.

Volunteer Cora Martz, who worked with other volunteers Janet Madore, Janice Germann, Tyler Germann and Emily Germann, said her team found a rhythm of packing the bags a few minutes after they started late Saturday morning.

She poured a cup of dehydrated soy into a funnel that led to a bag held by Madore. The Germanns added the vitamin packets, vegetables and rice into that same bag that was transported to another team of volunteers who weighed the bag, and then sealed it before it ended up in a donation box.

They did that a couple hundred more times.

Each bag costs 29 cents and provides enough content for six meals, Stop Hunger Now Assistant Program Manager Ben Gerrish said.

Meals are provided to people in poverty, however, Gerrish said Stop Hunger Now has a natural disaster relief aspect that collects about 10 percent of total meals prepared specifically for that effort.

“It goes beyond serving those who need,” Gerrish said. “We see hunger of a symptom of a greater problem: poverty. Our mission (is) to serve and fight against that.”

Once the congregations complet packing the meal bags, they’re boxed and transported to the Stop Hunger Now station in Philadelphia where they will be put in a warehouse.

Gerrish said the meals are then taken to the organization’s distribution partners and delivered to programs they serve.

To date, Stop Hunger Now has provided about 250 million meals oversees.

Britney Milazzo: 814-231-4648, @M11azzo

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