Retired executives reminisced about their (limited) days on the assembly line when they were learning their company’s business from the bottom up as part of their junior exec training programs. Kids were reminded of pre-school activity tables where they scooped up cups of dried pasta and dumped them out. And I, who wasn’t sure what I had done when I signed my family up for this church service project to feed the hungry (would we be cooking? Will dish-washing be involved?), watched in amazement as mild-mannered Village Church Congregationalists were transformed into lean, mean, meal-making machines, stationed at long tables set up in holy spaces, equipped with nothing higher-tech than plastic scoops, funnels, and scales.
The goal: provide meals for hungry local people. The conduit: Matthew Martin, regional manager for End Hunger New England and a former Lutheran minister. He is a man with a vision who he says has “…devoted my life to making sure hungry kids get the food they need. We will end hunger in the Northeast.”
The way it works is this: End Hunger New England sets up meal packaging events with churches, schools, businesses, and civic groups. The organizing group pays for the meals: 25 cents feeds a kid, $1 a family of 4. Martin handles all of the details, meaning his organization brings the materials to the site, sets everything up, trains the groups in how to assemble the meals, provides constant on-site support during the event, then transports the food to local food shelves and schools or regional food banks.
Here’s how business got taken care of on the line: scoop the dried protein into the funnel, scoop the pasta into the funnel, move the bagged contents along down the line, add the cheese packet, weigh it, vacuum seal it, box it up, off it goes into the van to be delivered to food pantries. Over 28,000 macaroni and cheese meals and red sauce and basil pasta meals in all were put together, most of which went to food pantries in Somerville and Hull, areas identified as high-need at this time. How many church members does it take to accomplish this feat? About 10 per table, a few hundred in all as volunteers came and went, got it done in a few hours.
Church members were feeling the spirit in a big way, with at least two donating $1,000 on the spot and many others writing checks to further the cause of ending hunger. Cheers rose up at a table when a meal bag being weighed was perfect down to the very ounce or when another donation purchased a few hundred more meals (Martin wisely keeps a supply of extra meals materials in his van), allowing the production party to keep going. Truly, in our hair nets and heels, with our chitter-chatter and table hopping, it was the most high-spirited I’d ever seen us all together, barring a really strong singing of “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow.”
The ultimate goal of Martin’s parent company, Outreach, is to end the hunger and nutritional deficiencies of every kid on the planet. These people think big. If your company or group wants to run with these macro-level thinkers and doers, go to End Hunger New England’s Facebook page for details.
Also of interest…
Wellesley charitable and community action groups