Group packs 100,000 meals to fight extreme hunger around the world

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Rob Zlock shows off some of the packages volunteers filled on Saturday. The Chronicle/Logan B. Anderson

HARRINGTON — The work done by more than 300 volunteers that came together on a cold March day in Delaware will be felt on the other side of the world.

On March 28, about 320 people donned hairnets and packed into Harrington’s Calvary Wesleyan Church Gymnasium building to pack staple foods to help Global Aid Network, a humanitarian aid organization, respond to a crisis faced by millions of children and families around the world — extreme hunger.

More than likely, the food packed in Harrington, Del. on Saturday will go to aid those with extreme hunger caused by unrest in the Middle East and West Africa.

Calvary Wesleyan Church and its area volunteers jumped into the fight against hunger about six years ago.

“We started with 20,000 meals, then we went to 25,000 meals, then 40,000, then 50,000. Last year we realized we had the capacity to do twice as much. We decided to go for it,” said effort organizer Rob Zlock.

On March 28, the group packed 100,000 meals.

The Calvary Wesleyan Church and its supporters, including local businesses, didn’t just volunteer their time, they had to raise money to pay for the meals they prepared.

“That’s a commitment of $25,000. It’s $.25 cents a meal. We made the commitment. We guaranteed that we could do it. People donated and we were able to cover the costs,” Me. Zlock said.

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Pictured, from left, are Mandy Calvello, Juliann McNelia and Barbara Walters pack rice meals to be distributed to refugees fleeing ISIS and the poor in West Africa facing threat of Ebola.

The meals consisted of beans and rice. The Global Aid Network provided the group with three large box trucks filled with equally large sacks of rice and beans. The volunteers, with the help of specialized equipment, broke down the large sacks into smaller heat sealed plastic bags. Mr. Zlock said one portion of rice is four meals. So a family of four would have one rice meal.

“It’s a compassion project,” Mr. Zlock said. “Churches are good at going to church; but going out and taking care of the poor and needy is an important part of what our calling is. This gets people excited about doing outreach. Loving people by providing what they need.”
When distributed, recipients will receive a packet of beans and several packets of rice.

“These meals go to people in crisis. They go to refugees. They have nothing. They’ve left their homes fleeing ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) or like in West Africa where there has been an Ebola outbreak. Those are the two areas where they will most likely go to. They can’t just go to the grocery store,” said Mr. Zlock.

By 1 p.m. on Saturday, the group had packed about 60,000 meals. They weren’t stopping until they reached their goal. The sound of the rice and beans being portioned out using metal funnels into the smaller plastic bags made for a unique and loud symphony of noise in the crowded gymnasium. No one seemed to mind the noise, everyone was focused on their 100,000 meals goal.

Mr. Zlock said the volunteers weren’t all from Calvary Wesleyan Church in Harrington.

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Volunteers load trucks with rice and bean meals headed for international distribution.

“They are from the community and other churches in the area,” he added.

The meals will be trucked to Lancaster, Pa. To the Global Aid Network’s distribution center there. From there, they will be placed on cargo ships and sent to the other side of the planet.

Contributions can be made at plumfund.com/pf/feedingthehungry or sent to Calvary Wesleyan Church, 240 Delaware Ave, Harrington, Del. To participate next year or to learn how to plan a similar event contact Rob Zlock at rzlock@yahoo.com. For more information about Global Aid Network visit www.gainusa.org.

Managing Editor Logan B. Anderson can be reached at landerson@newszap.com. Follow @LoganBAnderson on Twitter.

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