The non-profit organization Stop Hunger Now is coming to New England, and will be hosting a hands-on, informational showcase at Christ the Redeemer Anglican Church on Elliott Street on Monday, Dec. 10 from 6:30-8 p.m.
The purpose of the showcase it to introduce Stop Hunger Now to the area, and to discuss fundraising to support the new warehouse in Marlborough. Attendees will learn how to assemble the mini meal packets, and will produce approximately 2,000 meal packets before night’s end.
These food packets cost just twenty five cents each, and constitute one healthy meal for a hungry child. “That’s less than the cost of a candy bar,” remarked event host and Community Development Director of the New England Expansion, Sheryl Spann.
Although many invitations were sent out to attendees for Monday evening’s showcase, Spann stated she would happily accommodate late registrations in the interest of hosting a successful and meaningful event.
According to Spann, "New England was coming alive, and the organization knew they had to have a presence here." After keying in on interest in the area, a location is Marlborough, MA was selected for their warehouse, the fourteenth to open nationwide.
Now, the faith-based organization is motivated to get the word out, raise funds for the warehouse, and follow through with their mission to feed the hungry children of the world. They are reaching out to faith-based, civic, corporate and educational groups who are looking to become directly involved in a humanitarian effort to end world hunger. Co-hosting the event is Mickey Horner, the US Western Regional Director headquartered in Southern California, who handles the new expansion warehouses, which includes New England.
“If someone is affiliated with one of these faith-based groups, I want them to come to our event Monday night. I need to get the word out and make connections, to church leaders, boy and girl scout leaders, corporations-people who are in a position to help. I'd be thrilled if the parking lot is overflowing and causing a traffic jam out onto the street. My feeling about this is ‘Hey, I don't care about a traffic jam, as long as we can feed some kids- Yes we can!’“
What is Stop Hunger Now?
Headquartered in Raleigh, the organization was started in 1998 with a mission to end hunger around the world. It has been organizing and distributing food and necessary aid to children around the globe ever since. “We aid in disaster relief,” Spann offered. “We provided Haiti relief after the earthquake. Haiti is one of the 76 countries we work with...with three international locations, we are looking to expand into seven more,” Spann said.
And it doesn't end there. Although the greater focus is international, the organization maintains a stockpile of food packs which have a shelf life of five years in its warehouses around the country for domestic and international natural disaster relief operations. And to benefit the greater community at large, volunteers are asked to bring canned goods for collection at meal packaging events to help support area regions food pantries.
What Makes Stop Hunger Now Different from other charities, according to the director, is the hands-on involvement of it's volunteers. "Anyone who's written a check or walked a cancer walk knows how great it feels to know you're doing something to help...but that once that check goes out, or the walk ends, you don't really see where the money went towards," explained Spann. "With Stop Hunger Now, the involvement is full circle, A-Z.
First, you raise the funds to be able to host the vent. When a local church hosts it, for instance, the people who volunteer to package are the ones who donated; they're not bringing people from the outside to do it. You donated, and you are working to put the packages together. The meals are labeled Danvers and go out on a truck, and a week later you are brought together to see pictures of the children receiving the meals."
Spann described what to expect in hosting a Stop Hunger Now event: "It costs $5,000 to host an event. Once that money is raised through the church, civic or educational group, they contact us. We show up with a truck, and bring all the ingredients to make up the meal packets, which consist of rice, soy, dried vegetables and a vitamin packet.
We have men to help unload the truck and set up, and then we instruct about Stop Hunger Now, and very quickly teach about cleanliness, and how to put the meals together. They are zip locked and heat sealed on one end; and you have someone weighing and someone sealing...it's great for people who can't be on their feet all day.
The packets get labeled, that it was packaged at lions club event, Danvers, for instance, then it goes to our warehouse in Marlboro, MA, where it gets shipped out of Boston or New York harbor. Then we get pictures of the children receiving and eating the meals, so you can show it to our members, or the kids who worked on it, and they get to see....At a recent event, we had 50 lions club members, and we made 28,000 meals.
When we work with groups, we can work with anyone from the age of six to ninety; there's a job for everyone."
Spann explained how volunteers have systematically aided the spread of the organization throughout this nation, with the latest expansion into New England: "The story is somebody here was working for Cisco, and went to an event and experienced one of our meal packet events two years ago. Acting on pure emotion, he contacted us and said we need to bring Stop Hunger Now to New England.”
“That's how it happens,” she continued. “With kids and adults, they experience it through their church, synagogue, mosque or church conference; or civic groups, like the Lions Club, Rotary or The Knights of Columbus... then they ask for it to come to their area. In this area alone, we packaged 200,000 meal packets this month, prior to the warehouse coming on board."
At this juncture, Spann identifies fundraising for the new warehouse as the number one priority. "We have to get it up and running, and need $100,000 to do so, and if people want to donate anonymously, they can go to the link for the expansion project for New England..." She stated.
She continued, "We've made the commitment with the warehouse, and once we find people with hearts, and I know they exist, and we have people willing or connected, or have the means to help us get a forklift, office equipment, office supplies and furniture, anything to help get us running. We had to delay packaging (meals packs) until January because we want to meet needs professionally and completely. Once we have the warehouse functional, I can put together a million meals a year, which sounds like a lot but it isn't; but once I can do that, we are totally self sufficient."
Although new to the organization since it’s expansion to the northeast, Spann is working tirelessly to bring awareness about Stop Hunger Now to this region, and beyond. “I don't have any children by I want I leave a legacy behind, they become like my own children, I can't do it through my own, but I can do it through these children,” she said.