Today Erik and I took our girls to participate in a “Stop Hunger Now!” food packaging event sponsored by a local church. We heard about this opportunity to serve through an email sent out by our Girl Scout service unit. Having participated in one of these events a few years ago in another part of the county we jumped at the opportunity to join in.
…and I hope you’ll excuse the iphone pics … I was there in mommy/volunteer mode – not photographer mode – so I did not take my “big camera” with me because I didn’t want it to get in the way of the important work I was engaging in with my kidsThanks to the iphone our memories were still captured and I have these pictures here to share with you
Stop Hunger Now is an organization that works to assemble and provide meals to children throughout the world. Their website indicates that they primarily support school lunch programs in hunger-stricken regions. Each meal (which was made up of a combination of soy, rice, dehydrated vegetables and a vitamin packet) costs only $0.25 cents.
At today’s event we packaged 50,000 meals.
We were told that today’s meals were being sent to a school in the Philippines. Our leader explained that many children who wouldn’t otherwise be sent to school are sent to school because their families know they will get a good meal during the day. So not only are the children being fed – they are also gaining an education they might not have otherwise obtained. The combination will hopefully give them the opportunity to support their families into the future. He mentioned that a school which started the program began with an enrollment of 200 students give or take… and after the addition of the meal program their enrollment grew to upwards of 1000 students.
The photo above shows a funnel station – 6 of us worked together at this station, each with a unique job. One person held the bag onto the funnel, one put in a vitamin packet, one a cup of soy, one a spoon of vegetables, one a cup of rice and the 6th was a runner to take a tub of filled bags to a nearby weighing station where other volunteers checked the weight and then sealed the bags. We actually had 3 second graders so while most stations had 6 we had 7… and our extra just rotated in and out of jobs so all the littler ones had some break time.
Their website indicates that children age 4 and up are welcome to participate. We did a meal packaging event when our girls were 4 or 5 and it was good but they only lasted through about 1/2 hour before they were ready to go home (although it was still a great life lesson). Today at age 7 ( almost 8 ) they were fully involved, independent, helped with a variety of jobs and made it a full 2 hours before we started to hear “When is lunch?”
I really loved a lot of the life lessons that happened this morning.
- my elementary age children got a chance to do hands-on service (rather than the usual collection-based project)
- the girls got to work with a variety of ages in a cooperative activity (we had adults, 2nd graders, a middle schooler and a high schooler in our group)
- they got to see the concept of an “assembly line” at work (and boy was this an efficient one!)
- they got to try out a variety of roles within the assembly line (within our funnel group each child got a turn at each measuring spot as well as working as a runner)
- when the kids needed breaks it was okay for them to take a break and things kept moving smoothly
- the organizers ring a gong for each 1000 meals packaged which really helps keep momentum and excitement going
- we spent the car ride home solving math problems – “If we create 8000 packages and there were 16 stations, how many meals do you estimate that our station packaged?” “If you carried 3 meal packages to the weighing station and each package feeds 6 people how many people could those three meal packages feed?”
- we looked up the Philippines on a map to see exactly where these meals might be heading
- we got to see how many people cooperating together can really make a difference for others
This was our second meal-packaging event and both of these were sponsored by Methodist churches. If you’re interested to see if there is one coming up in your area you can visit their website.
Thank you to the Round Hill United Methodist Church for sponsoring this meal-packaging event and putting out the invitation for community support.
We had a fantastic family field trip! We hope to participate again someday!