April 30, 2016
Aliso Viejo, Calif. – Last Saturday, over 750 local volunteers gathered to sort, prep and pack over 100,000 nutritious meals to be sent to school feeding programs in 65 countries around the world. The Stop Hunger Now national organization (stophungernow.com) and its local chapter organized the event which was sponsored by a local church congregation and community.
“By providing meals for school feeding programs children stay in school which helps bring up literacy rates and break the cycle of poverty and end hunger,” remarked Ryan Ponds of Stop Hunger Now.
The local congregation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints known as the Laguna Niguel Stake hosted the volunteer packing event at its Aliso Viejo chapel. The Church identified the project via its JustServe Helping Hands platform (justserve.org) which matches faith, non-profit, community and governmental organizations that need volunteers willing to help.
“Millions of men, women and children in this world go hungry every day and we wanted to do something about it,” reflected Jenna Harline, Assistant Director of Interfaith Relations for the Laguna Niguel Stake and local organizer of the event.
Church members and general members of the community also raised over $30,000 dollars to fund the components of the meals that were packaged. Each meal cost 29 cents to develop, apart from the volunteer labor to assemble and pack for shipment. The project’s goal was to package at least 75,000 and that goal was surpassed by more than 25,000 meals.
“This is a fantastic example for the whole community and surrounding cities. The families that are here are really learning a great lesson from the church,” observed Ross Chun, Aliso Viejo City Councilman.
It took the volunteers under six hours to package all of the meals. Every time they reached 1,000 meals a gong was hit and the crowd cheered. The event provided everyone a chance to serve as volunteers ranged in age from two to 92.
“There is such a great feeling here today. As you look around, there is a part for everyone in this process of building these meals. We are grateful for all who have joined us today,” Robert Davis, Laguna Niguel Stake President.
“The best thing about this JustServe project is seeing a community come together to make a difference and be excited about it,” Jenna Harline, event organizer.