On Dec. 10, 2005, 50 volunteers formed an assembly line at a Raleigh warehouse for Stop Hunger Now’s inaugural meal packaging event. Those volunteers packaged 20,000 meals to feed people suffering from hunger.
In the 10 years since, we have enlisted hundreds of thousands of volunteers who have packaged over 225 million meals at 19 locations in the U.S. and six more abroad. The Raleigh warehouse alone has packaged over 33 million meals, including nearly 4.6 million meals packaged last year by over 29,000 people at 278 meal packaging events.
To mark the 10th anniversary of our meal packaging program, Stop Hunger Now will host an event at its Raleigh warehouse on December 12, 2015, that is expected to attract several hundred volunteers who will package over 100,000 meals.
Initially developed to help provide rapid relief for disasters, meal packaging now is part of a larger strategy to help boost education and sustainable development in impoverished regions of the world. Stop Hunger Now distributes meals through schools, orphanages, health clinics, vocational training programs and, increasingly, through programs that focus on women’s health, women’s education and maternal & fetal health.
“We leverage the meals so we’re not just killing hunger pains but transforming lives and society,” says Darron Stover, Raleigh program manager for Stop Hunger Now. As a member of Fairmont United Methodist Church in Raleigh, which housed Stop Hunger Now for over 11 years starting shortly after it was formed in 1998, Stover participated in the inaugural meal packaging event. He then quickly volunteered to help organize and coordinate other meal packaging events. A year ago, he joined Stop Hunger Now as a full-time employee.
The Rev. Steve Hickle was pastor at Fairmont United Methodist Church and a member of the Stop Hunger Now board of directors at the time of the first meal packaging event. “We’re building a movement to end hunger,” says Hickle, who now is Faith Outreach Director for Stop Hunger Now. He has developed partnerships with over 30 Christian faith groups and eight other faith groups in the movement to end world hunger.
Meal packaging provides a highly visible point of entry for people to get involved in eradicating hunger, which affects nearly 800 million people, down from one billion 20 years ago, Hickle says. “By offering this experience, we’re having an impact on education and development in many places,” he says. “We’re one piece of a growing movement, and we invite others to join with us in any place they can help end world hunger.”