Columbus churches prepare meals to feed children in Haiti, Africa

Members at Grace Presbyerian and Rock Presbyterian prepare meal packages.
Members at Grace Presbyerian and Rock Presbyterian prepare meal packages.

The Rev. Sungman Park was glad to see members of Rock Presbyterian Church and Grace Presbyterian Church working together Sunday night in a project that will feed thousands.

“We want to be known as giving churches. That is our mission. This is something that helps so many people. It is also good for two different groups to get to know each other better,” said the Rock pastor about the humanitarian relief effort.

Especially so, since the Grace membership currently holds services in the Rock sanctuary on Sidney Simons Boulevard.

The church members, adults and children, took part in a Stop Hunger Now meal packaging event in which about 20,000 meals were prepared. The majority will feed children in Haiti but some will go to the African country of Mozambique, which is currently suffering from a severe drought.

The Rev. Chuck Hasty of Grace said about 150 people wearing plastic gloves and hairnets participated.

“It is great to see the two congregations come together like this,” said Hasty who made a special effort to make sure members of the two churches worked together on packing teams.

The two groups shared a meal before packaging began.

Stop Hunger Now, which provides the food for the meals and runs the event, is a nonprofit international hunger organization which coordinates the distribution of food to crisis areas around the world.

Established in 1998 by Ray Buchanan, a United Methodist minister, Stop Hunger Now, based in Raleigh, N.C., has provided more than 225 million meals in 74 countries.

The meals are distributed through feeding programs operated by partner organizations in developing countries that promote education, improve the health and nutrition of children, address gender inequalities, fight child labor and stimulate economic growth.

The meal packages, prepared in an assembly line process, combine rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables and a flavoring mix that includes 23 essential vitamins and nutrients.

Volunteers set up and take down packaging stations and equipment, fill bins with raw ingredients, scoop ingredients into meal bags, weigh and seal the bags, box and stack the bags on pallets and load the equipment onto the truck.

In the last couple of years, similar events have been held in Columbus at Edgewood Presbyterian Church and Beth Salem Presbyterian Church.

“It is work but it is a lot of fun, too,” said Hasty, as loud music played in the background. “There is a lot of satisfaction.”

Larry Gierer: 706-571-8581, @lagierer