660 help package meals for hungry

Volunteers pack 103,000 meals for world's hungry

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Volunteers (l-r) Trevor Pharr, Morgan Ray and Ruby Abbott were among about 660 volunteers who helped package meals for Rise Against Hunger in the R.L. Vaughan Center at Elizabeth City State University, Sunday.


By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Monday, November 20, 2017

Recipe for fighting hunger: package vitamins, soy, vegetables and rice. Repeat 103,000 times.

A small army of volunteers did just that at Elizabeth City State University on Sunday, when ECSU hosted its second annual event with Raleigh-based nonprofit Rise Against Hunger, previously known as Stop Hunger Now. Organizers estimated the event drew 660 volunteers to package 103,000 dry meals to send to nations struggling with hunger.

Globally, about one in nine people struggle to get sufficient and nutritious food, Rise Against Hunger's Darron Stover told the volunteers who filled the gym of the R.L. Vaughan Center. Rise Against Hunger has set a goal to end extreme hunger by 2030, and, with numerous communities' help, has sent more than 340 million meals abroad since 2005, he explained. Most of those meals go to schools, orphanages, and health clinics, but 20 percent of the meals are set aside for disaster relief. That relief has been greatly needed this year, as disasters have struck African nations, Vietnam and the Caribbean. Rise Against Hunger has even sent aid to the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, he said, alluding to the widespread devastation that Hurricane Maria inflicted there.

Local pastors Chip Broadfoot and Hipp Barclift spearheaded last year's event, but ECSU took the lead this year, explained Russ Haddad, special assistant to Chancellor Thomas Conway.

Present and volunteering for Sunday's event, Conway said ECSU intended to make the event a campus tradition and hoped to recruit more students next year. ECSU is working to instill a stronger spirit of service in students, he said.

Haddad and Stover also said ECSU and Rise Against Hunger planned to package more meals than last year, about 103,000 versus 91,000, thanks to some 260 more volunteers.

Among ECSU's volunteers were freshmen Pele Rankin and Alexis Harmon, who said freshman seminar instructors are strongly encouraging community service; it's also extra credit opportunity, though they didn't need the credit, they said.

Rankin also said his instructor told him point-blank not to just sit in his room throughout college. Invest in the community and it'll invest in you, he was told.

The majority of Sunday's volunteers came from outside ECSU, however, including returning volunteers from local churches. Debbie and Don Cherry, of First Baptist Church, said they were happy to help again with an important cause.

“It's so important we do this to help people throughout the world,” Debbie said.

Other organizations fielding volunteers Sunday included Christ Episcopal Church, Mt. Carmel Missionary Baptist Church, Cann Memorial Presbyterian Church, Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools and College of The Albemarle.

Sunday's volunteers were also asked to help fight hunger closer to home. The Food Bank of the Albemarle requested volunteers' help in bagging apples to distribute to families in need across the region. Food bank Executive Director Liz Reasoner said the apples — all 16,000 pounds of them — were provided by a food bank in Asheville.

Reasoner was also on hand to help Rise Against Hunger, noting people should not be left hungry here or around the world.

“I think it's important to look out for what we can do globally as well as locally,” she said.