Hunger Relief Effort Involving School Community Sets Record

In only eight hours, almost 500 volunteers gathered at the American Legion Building to package 171,720 highly nourishing, dehydrated rice-soy meals for distribution to crisis-burdened areas and school lunch programs worldwide.

The East Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill and Southwest Durham Rotary Clubs sponsored the April 21 effort in conjunction with Raleigh-based international hunger relief agency Stop Hunger Now. Community groups who also participated included the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Dentistry, UNC-Chapel Hill pre-dental honor society Delta Delta Sigma, the Knights of Columbus, the Chapel of the Cross, Aldersgate United Methodist Church, Girls on the Run, Chapel Hill and East Chapel Hill high schools, local Boy Scouts and Rotaract.

The event set a new single-day meal packaging record.  Last summer, Rotary District 7710 pledged to fund, package and ship one million meals for Stop Hunger Now by July 1, 2007. After Saturday’s event, Rotary is on track to package more than 1.3 million meals for the world’s starving children by July 1, 2007. The meals are delivered to countries such as Ghana, Bolivia, Kenya and Haiti.

“We have learned, quite simply, if you give to the world, the world gives back,” said Rod Brooks, Stop Hunger Now chief executive officer.  “When schools have feeding programs, children attend school. When children attend school, they become educated. When commun

ities are educated, birth rates are lower, and disease rates fall. They acquire the ability to sustain themselves.”

Corporate sponsors of the event included Cherokee Investment Partners, A Southern Season and UPS.

The event atmosphere was festive and the pace fast, as volunteers worked in production stations for packaging meal bags, adding meal ingredients, sealing the bags and placing them in boxes. A gong sounded with each 1,000 meals packaged. Three shifts of volunteers worked a total of 1,181 hours. Almost 100 volunteers represented the School of Dentistry and Delta Delta Sigma.

“Gandhi once said, ‘The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.’ I was proud to experience the sentiment of this quote along with over 450 volunteers at the Million Meals event,” said Nazir Ahmad, a third-year DDS student and a member of the event planning team. “There, we had a chance to serve others by helping to lessen the effects of hunger that now afflict a quarter of the world’s population.”

Established in 1998, Stop Hunger Now is a nonprofit, international relief organization committed to ending hunger worldwide in our lifetime.  The organization leads ongoing efforts to feed starving women and children around the world by providing direct emergency food and other life-saving aid in crisis-burdened areas.

Rotary is a worldwide organization of business and professional leaders who provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in every vocation and help to build good will and peace. Celebrating 100 years of service since its inception in Chicago in 1905, Rotary has expanded to 168 countries and includes approximately 1.2 million club members in more than 33,000 clubs.