By NICHOLE GOLDEN, Staff Writer | Published October 3, 2019
GREENSBORO—As part of their Year of Service, parishioners at Christ Our King and Savior Church spent the morning of Saturday, Sept. 21 packing meals for Rise Against Hunger.
When Father Michael Silloway, pastor, realized the meal-packing event was scheduled for the same day as the big University of Georgia versus Notre Dame football game, he panicked a bit.
“Prioritize. That’s kind of how I sold it,” said Father Silloway.
With 100 parishioners taking part in the effort to fight hunger, it only took about an hour and a half to pack 10,000 meals—leaving plenty of time to enjoy the football game that evening in nearby Athens.
The pastor said it was beautiful to see all the families who turned out to volunteer.
“It’s such high-energy,” he said about the campaign.
It may seem insignificant to scoop out rice portions, but “your hand is going to feed somebody.”
Father Silloway said the endeavor is part of the service component of the parish’s Year of Prayer, Year of Service, Year of Giving appeal.
“It’s the contact with the Lord. It’s a Gospel mandate,” Father Silloway said.
Rise Against Hunger is an international hunger relief organization that distributes food and life-changing aid to the world’s most vulnerable, mobilizing the necessary resources with a goal of ending hunger by 2030.
Michael Ashley, community engagement manager for Rise Against Hunger, said each meal packed has four components—a foil-packed vitamin powder, a vegetable protein, vegetable medley and rice at a cost of 34 cents a meal. All that’s needed to prepare the food in an impoverished country is the water and fuel to boil the water, he said.
In addition to feeding the poor, Rise Against Hunger works in the countries served to promote better agricultural methods and business skills so the population can become more self-sufficient.
“It’s put into a program that has a greater context,” said Ashley about the meals.
Ashley said the meal-packing events are “very inclusive” with jobs for the young and old. “It’s really a way to get the entire parish involved,” he said. “You don’t have an excuse.”
People sometimes ask whether these tasks would be better accomplished in an efficient, warehouse setting, but that misses the point.
“From our perspective, it’s all about participation,” said Ashley. “We are the hands that assembled these meals. It’s creating a culture of volunteerism.”
Ashley said those who participated at the Greensboro parish event will be notified by email about what country will receive the meals, which have a long shelf life.
Rise Against Hunger works to make the events fun by playing cheesy music and hitting a gong when volunteers reach each 1,000-meal mark. In addition to providing the supplies for the stand-alone packing events, Rise Against Hunger is the organization that partners with Catholic Relief Services for Helping Hands.
Rise Against Hunger works in 77 countries, and in 2018 the organization served 794,700 people in need. It is based in Raleigh, North Carolina, with 28 branches.
At the parish, the Knights of Columbus, the Stewardship Committee and parishioner Marietta Dubus, among others, helped execute the successful project.
Father Silloway was impressed with the logistics and coordination of Rise Against Hunger.
“It’s a well-oiled machine,” he said.