Can a few hundred people feed 50,000? Volunteers are hoping so, as the community of St. James is set to come together Aug. 23 to pack enough meals to feed a small city—nearly two and half times larger than Rolla. And each meal will only cost 25 cents.
Change This World is a mission organization that hosts food packing events across the country. Once packaged, the meals are used to feed families in distressed countries, as well in the U.S. Its mission is "to empower volunteers to package and provide meals to children and families in developing countries, as a tool to bring hope and change to lives." The event will begin 9 a.m. Aug. 23 at the Nelson Hart Community Hall and continue throughout the day,
"It's feasible," said organizer Don Carson, "that if there are 150 people working we could finish this in a couple hours."
Carson, who is the pastor at the First Church of God in St. James, said he is just one of a group of ministers and community leaders who are organizing and promoting the event. However, it was during a national Church of God convention in the summer of 2013 that Carson first encountered Change This World, when he participated in a similar food packing event.
"Packing the food was one thing," Carson said. "But the 35 or 40 minutes of conversation with those you were working alongside, was what really stood out."
Carson said that the building of community and relationships is what made the event so impressive. Later during the convention, he was approached by a couple from the Church of God congregation who confirmed his excitement.
"At the time it was something we thought we could do in St. James," Carson said.
Andrew Neal, director of operations for Change This World, said groups across the country participate in similar packing events. And the results can mean a lifetime of change.
"When food is used effectively and efficiently it can do a lot more than just feed people," Neal said. "It can lead to education, clean water, safety and hope."
The food prepared by volunteers is shipped to many locations including schools and orphanages.
"You might ask, how does food affect education?" Neal said. "When food is available at schools in these countries, parents are more likely to send their children."
The meals were designed by food scientists, Neal said, to specifically target and combat malnutrition.
Organizer Chrissy Adams encouraged anyone to attend the event who was curious to see how many meals could be packed in such a short time. No sign-up is required before the day of the event. Those interested can just show up, register at the event and start working.
"I've actually not been a part of one yet," Adams said. "But our goal is 50,000 meals. That's a lot."
Many of the meals will be shipped to locations like Haiti, Honduras and Burundi, Adams said.
And while the over-arching goal of the event is to pack meals for those less fortunate, a closer bond of humanity is formed through service to others.
"Equally important as packing meals, is to see community built in St. James, and new relationships formed by working with others," Carson said. "Change This World will help starving people across the world but it's also building community in St. James."
For more information on the event visit https://my.changethisworld.com/stjames or for an inside look at what Aug. 23 will look at visit www.vimeo.com/90672711