In 2017 Stop Hunger Now rebranded to become Rise Against Hunger (RAH). Driving Rise Against Hunger’s work is the recognition that ending hunger is more than just feeding people, which led to a focus on feeding programs in areas where the organization can have a real impact and expand its hunger-fighting programs beyond meal packaging and distribution.

Meals distributed through partners in countries around the world are used as a tool to change lives by promoting education, improving students’ health and nutrition, addressing gender inequalities, stimulating economic growth and fighting child labor.

Another core focus of Rise Against Hunger is responding to crises – both natural and man-made. When everyday access to food, wages, and market systems are destroyed in the wake of emergencies, Rise Against Hunger works through a network of in-country partners to address these needs.

Their third approach to eradicating hunger centers around grassroots community empowerment. Rise Against Hunger bolsters agricultural production and incomes through programs promoting improved agricultural methods, business skills, and market access. With training and access to quality seeds and fertilizers, farmers can increase production and harvest a variety of nutritious crops. By supporting the establishment of fish and livestock production, we also provide pathways to diversifying diets and improving nutritional outcomes.

The mission of Rise Against Hunger is “to end hunger in our lifetime by providing food and life-changing aid to the world’s most vulnerable and creating global commitment to mobilize the necessary resources.”

This summer’s Rise Against Hunger event on June 17 at River Road generated one of the largest turnouts in the short history of our church hosting this fun, multi-generational meal packaging event. Fifty-seven members and guests of our congregation came together in the Fellowship Hall to assemble over 10,000 meals, with returning volunteers welcoming many first-time guests. Following instruction from the RAH facilitator, members quickly moved to their desired workstations in groups of four and five.

Teams at the beginning of the process filled bags with vitamin packets, dehydrated seasonings, soy protein, and white rice. Our youngest volunteers carried containers with assembled bags to the next station, where the bags are weighed. Only the most quality-conscious volunteers fill these slots, as a detailed focus is required to ensure each bag’s weight falls within the given range. Upon heat sealing the bags, they are then carried to the boxing station to be counted and stacked in boxes. The last step is carrying the filled boxes out to the Rise Against Hunger truck. Perhaps the most popular step in the process, particularly among the young children participating, is ringing the GONG at the passing of each 1,000 assembled meals mark. This has become an honored tradition at River Road’s Rise Against Hunger events, as many returning volunteers ask at the beginning of the day if they may have a turn to ring the gong. As you might guess, each cymbal ring brings resounding applause from the group.

Written by Austin Clark

Originally published in the 2017 Fall Quarterly Explorer