"... and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday." – Isaiah 58:10
The 2014 Annual Conference session is offering members a chance to "spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry" by helping package meals for distribution within the U.S. and around the world.
Volunteers pack meals in this photo from Stop Hunger Now.
Members who volunteer will work assembly-line style to measure out ingredients and package the meals. The Conference is working with the Raleigh, N.C.- based nonprofit Stop Hunger Now (SHN).
“Annual Conference involves a lot planning, discussing and deciding. Working with Stop Hunger Now will enable us to add doing to the list," said the Rev. Bill Gottschalk-Fielding, Director of Connectional Ministries. "United Methodists are a hands-on people. This international anti-hunger project will allow us to engage in a hands-on mission."
Upper New York has committed to packaging 75,000 meals during the Annual Conference session.
SHN will be at the OnCenter on Friday, May 30; the two meal-packaging shifts will take place during the lunch period, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and during the dinner hour, from 5:30 to 7 p.m.
The SHN dehydrated meals contain rice, soy, vegetables, flavoring and 21 essential vitamins and minerals. They cost only $0.25 per meal to create, and each package contains six meals.
The SHN meal program began in 2005; since its inception, more than 135 million meals have been packaged by countless volunteers.
The Rev. Jeff Childs, who chairs the Global Ministries Team, is heading up the fundraising portion of this effort for the Conference.
Rev. Childs said he'd done a similar project while serving in Minnesota, and actually packaging the food makes the contribution even more significant.
"When you're writing a check go to organization, you're a couple of arms' length away," Rev. Childs said. "With this, you're not even arm's length away. Your fingerprints are on what will be given into someone else's hands."
Working together as a team on the assembly line is also very meaningful, he said.
The 2013 Annual Conference approved a conference-wide special offering that would support ministry locally (within the Conference boundaries), nationally and globally.
This Love Offering, which all churches will be asked to take, will be divided to support this national and international anti-hunger effort, the Reaching Our Neighbors Ministry Oversight Team, which awards grants within the Conference, and, as the global component, the Africa University Scholarship Endowment Fund.
Rev. Childs said he hopes the offering will raise $50,000 to $100,000; it will cost about $17,000 to produce the meal packages, and he hopes awards of about that can be made to the other ministries as well. Churches will bring the offering to the Annual Conference session.
Something to see
Rev. Childs said he's looking forward to seeing what members accomplish.
"(With an effort like this) you see something at the end of the day," he said. "When you see the massive amount of food we produce, it's an accomplishment to celebrate."
Rev. Gottschalk-Fielding added, "75,000 meals would feed more than half the city of Syracuse. It will make a real difference. I encourage every Conference member to help so this can be a great success.”
10 reasons we can stop hunger
Click here to learn why hunger is a problem that can be solved.
Watch it work
Check out this video to see how the meal packing works.