Brownson Strives to Feed Hungry
BY ANGELA ZUMWALT
Special to The Pilot
The sun shone out of a cloudless, Carolina blue sky on a quiet Sunday morning in Southern Pines.
Around the campus of Brownson Memorial Presbyterian Church, anticipation was building. One hundred and fifty volunteers registered, received their assignment and name badge, and flooded into rooms to join others for a simple brown bag lunch and fellowship.
For a second year, Brownson had chosen to fund and organize a Stop Hunger Now meal-packaging event on its grounds. This event is seen by Brownson as a way to allow all of its members - young and old - to participate in an effort to help others in times of need around the world. These meals mean life or death to those in disaster areas.
Established in 1998, Stop Hunger Now is an international relief organization, headquartered in Raleigh, that coordinates the distribution of food and other life-saving aid around the world. Stop Hunger Now is driven by a vision to end world hunger in our lifetime and a mission to provide food and life-saving aid to the world's most destitute and hungry in the most sustainable, efficient and effective manner.
Just before lunch, Ryan Howe, from the Stop Hunger Now organization, rolled into the back parking lot at Brownson in a large white truck full of supplies. A small team of strong volunteers worked hard unloading large bags of rice and dried foods, along with scales, sealing machines and everything required to carry out the meal-packaging event.
The organizing team at Brownson, spearheaded by Bob Zumwalt, had made note of lessons learned from last year's event and were eager to put their improved plans into action. Last year, the volunteers had packaged 18,456 meals. The goal was to package more than 20,000 meals with the same number of volunteers in the same time frame.
Hairnets were donned and caused much levity, stations were manned, and the process began. Teams at the filling stations had it down to a fine art: They measured and filled plastic bags with rice, soy, dried vegetables, and a flavor and vitamin packet. Each bag will feed six people.
Runners took the bags to the "weighers," who added or subtracted rice to the exact required weight. The "weighers" passed the bags to the "sealing team," seated opposite them, who worked as a team to heat-seal the bags.
Runners took the sealed bags to the counting table, where they were counted and then packaged into boxes, which were then taped closed, marked and taken out to the truck.
There was plenty of work for everyone - no matter what their age or physical ability.
The Rev. Karen Allen directed a young "gonger" to strike the large gong up on the stage as each 1,000th meal was packaged. The competition for this activity was fierce.
That day, the volunteers cheered as they heard 20 gongs.
The truck heading back to Raleigh contained 20,178 meals.
"This was accomplished in less time and with more ease than the prior year," says Bob Zumwalt.
A few days later, he was thrilled to report to the volunteers that the armfuls of meals they had packaged will be on their way, July 1, to Homes for Children in Kenya to make a difference.
For more information on the meal-packaging program, visit stophunger now.org. For more information on Brownson, visit brownsonchurch.org or call (910) 692-6252.
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