By Dawn M Chiossi
No one should ever be hungry: It is a basic humane belief, and it is one that Caldwell Methodist Church takes seriously. On February 9th, they sought to make a dent in the grave problem of hunger in society with their second annual Rise Against Hunger event, and they were elated with the results.
Approximately 181 people signed in for this meal packing event to send meal packages abroad to those who are starving. During this expansive event, people from all over gathered together to assemble 20,000 meals for those in need. According to Reverend Vivian Rodeffer, Pastor of Caldwell Methodist Church, “When you break it down at 29 cents a meal, that’s $6,000,” she enthuses. “This was double the amount of last year!”
Proving that many hands could make a huge difference, she is pleased to announce that many people showed up including members of various organizations, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Kiwanis, neighbors, members of the church and so many more. This event was so popular, that people of all ages attended.
According to Rodeffer, who has been pastor for the church for six years, this is a mission close to her heart.
“The main mission of Rise Against Hunger is to end world hunger by 2030. They partner with countries all around the world, where severe food shortages threaten lives. They work to resolve the root causes of famine in addition to providing meals. Last year, meals went to aid people Uganda, while this year the destination for the meals is still unknown. People will hear where the meals are going in a few weeks.” Rodeffer said.
In two shifts, this extensive group formed an assembly line packaging the meals comprised of rice, soy, dried vegetables, vitamins and other essential nutrients. The bags of food are five to six servings of nutritious food that people add water to. There were stations where people measured ingredients and filled plastic bags, measuring stations, sealing stations, and stations were everything was labeled and boxed up. There was a muscle team on each shift–those who replenished supplies by lifting the 50-pound bags of rice and 30 pound bag of soy.
Children even had the opportunity be a real part of this event, working as runners carrying bins of bags from one station to another. While everyone worked in tandem, the Rise to Hunger event was by no means a somber one. Rodeffer tells that everyone had a great time laughing, working, dancing along to the music that was playing along.
“This was so much fun,” Rodeffer shares.
Additionally, one of the most enjoyable, most motivating aspects of the entire day was the gong that was brought in. “For every thousand bags that we packed, someone rang the gong. We rang the gong 20 times that day,” Rodeffer prides.
“My favorite thing about the whole event was seeing all of the people who came out that day,” she says. “The variety of all ages participating. It just showed that everyone can come and participate. “This event was so positive, that we want to keep it going,” Rodeffer relates.
Rodeffer tells that Caldwell Methodist Church does so much to fight hunger, both abroad and in the community, working with CUMAC in Paterson, Interfaith Hospitality Network in Newark, Caldwell Food Pantry and much more. For her, the outpouring of support for the cause of Rise Against Hunger was just as important as the cause itself.
“We are not a big church but everyone came to participate. We do so many wonderful outreach things, giving the personal touch,” she says. “Everyone being together was such a joyful time. It was special.”