On Saturday, April 11 over 300 volunteers from across the county met at Round Hill Elementary School to support the 5th Annual Western Loudoun County Stop Hunger Now event. Enthusiastically working in highly organized production lines, they packaged 50,328 meals in less than 3 hours against a background of music and cheers as production goals were met. Volunteers included a wide range of individuals and families from across Loudoun County as well as community groups from several churches, Boy and Girl Scout troops, sports teams, school groups, and emergency services organizations.
This annual event is sponsored and organized by Round Hill United Methodist Church.
According to Pastor Witt, this year’s event once again exceeded expectations. Fund raising goals needed to pay for the food and packaging materials were met and volunteer turnout grew for the fifth consecutive year. Round Hill UMC began sponsoring this community event after church members were introduced to the Stop Hunger Now organization in 2010 at their annual conference. The first Western Loudoun County Stop Hunger event at Round Hill UMC in 2011 packaged 25,000 meals. Community support for this annual project grew rapidly and the event was moved to the much larger Round Hill Elementary School location in 2013. Over the past 5 years, the Western Loudoun Stop Hunger Now campaign has packaged more than 350,000 individual meals for shipment to Uganda, Haiti, Philippines, and Burkina Faso.
During this year’s event, volunteers assembled and packed individual meals by manning a series of measuring, weighing, filling, sealing, and packing stations. Each dehydrated rice/soy meal is designed to be nutritionally sound and culturally acceptable across the globe. Meals are also fortified with 23 essential vitamins and nutrients since research shows that one in three people in developing countries suffer serious vitamin and mineral deficiencies. The meals packed at this year’s event were transferred to a holding warehouse in Lynchburg VA to await mid-May shipment to a priority third world location to be selected by the Stop Hunger Now organization.
This event is part of a much larger effort to relieve hunger in some of the world’s most distressed areas. The Raleigh NC-based Stop Hunger Now organization was founded in 1998 by Ray Buchanan, an ordained United Methodist minister with the vision of ending hunger in his lifetime. Buchanan, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam, previously founded and spent 18 years as co-director of the Society of St. Andrew, a Virginia-based domestic food relief organization. Since inception, Stop Hunger Now has provided over 180 million meals in 65 countries by engaging the support of over 500,000 corporate, student, civic and faith-based volunteers to package meals. This year, Stop Hunger Now expects to package over 45 million meals, and ship over $9 million in donated aid consisting of mainly vitamins and medical supplies to worldwide locations.