This past Sunday at Lifepointe Christian Church was one of the most incredible experiences I’ve had in church. It wasn’t the preaching (sorry Nate), or the rocking worship band, because we didn’t do any of that Sunday. So what was it? It was hundreds of people in hair nets. What?!? Yes, it was moms, dads, kids, young and old, rich and poor, members and visitors, all pulling together to be the hands and feet of Jesus by wearing hair nets and packing 40,000 meals in just a couple of hours that will go to feed hungry people in Haiti and Uganda.
How can only a few hundred people accomplish so much in such a short time? Through the ingenuity and passion of an organization called Stop Hunger Now. Started in 1998 by a Christian minister, Stop Hunger Now is a non-governmental, non-profit, international relief organization, that has provided over 118,000,000 (yes that’s million) meals to starving people in 65 countries (see interactive map). All of these meals have been packaged by volunteers from groups like our church.
Stop Hunger Now utilizes a people-powered assembly line process for the streamlined packaging of highly nutritious dehydrated meals comprised of rice, soy, vegetables, flavoring and 21 essential vitamins and minerals. The meals are easily transported to crisis-burdened areas or supplied to school feeding programs around the world. The food stores easily, transports quickly and has a shelf-life of two years. The meals cost only $0.25 each to create and they are purchased by the volunteer group who does the packaging. This model has allowed the program to expand nationwide and they are still growing, so look for them near you soon. The video below shows the packaging process.
Consider the following facts about worldwide hunger (from Stop Hunger Now):
- Approximately 823 million people do not have enough to eat, and 98 percent of them live in developing countries.
- One in seven people in the developing world suffers from hunger. 400 million are starving children.
- More than 110 million starving children live in just 10 countries.
- Malnutrition is associated with more than half of all childhood deaths.
- A child dies every 15 seconds because he or she is severely underweight or lacks essential nutrients. This is the equivalent of 20 jumbo jets crashing every day.
- More than 25,000 people die of hunger-related causes every day.
- More people die each year from hunger-related causes than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.
- Between 5 and 6 million children die each year from infections that would not have killed them had they been properly fed.
- The industrialized world, including the United States, makes up only 4 percent of the world’s hungry.
- More than 2 million children have severe vision problems due to a lack of vitamin A.
- The lives of approximately 684,000 children would be saved by increasing access to vitamin A and zinc.
- There is enough food in the world to feed everyone 4.3 pounds of food every day.
- The world has produced enough food to feed itself since the 1960s.
- Farmers produce 25 percent more calories per person than they did 30 years ago.
With such a simple solution available there’s no reason we can’t work together to help take care of “the least of these” who are in desperate need. If your church, corporation, university, or civic organization is looking for a way to give back and help others I’d encourage you to contact Stop Hunger Now to host a packaging event. They will take care of all the details and bring everything to you. You just purchase the meals and supply the volunteers.
If you don’t live in an area served by Stop Hunger Now yet, or don’t currently belong to a large group who can hold a packaging event, there are still ways you can get involved by hosting a dinner party, donating money, volunteering your time, etc. No matter how you choose to get involved, together we can all do our part to Stop Hunger Now worldwide.
If you’ve worked with Stop Hunger Now before, leave a comment below about how it impacted you or your group. I’d love to hear about it.