A NEW way of raising money to feed hungry children around the world is coming to the UK from the United States — in the shape of food-packing events.
Food-packing took off in the US a decade ago, and the idea has been adopted by many big companies as part of their corporate social responsibility. The charity Feed the Hungry, however, is now adapting it for churches.
Besides funding the raw materials for the meals, groups get together to pack each of the meals to be sent to vulnerable children overseas.
The Hand to Hand initiative, set up by the charity, provides “experience-led” philanthropy, and a practical way for individuals to express their support for vulnerable children, its operations director, Gwyn Williams, says.
Feed the Hungry supplies all the raw materials — soya, rice, lentils, micronutrients, and the packaging — and members of the congregation get together to weigh out and pack individual meals.
Each meal costs 19p; this is paid for by the church group through fund-raising, or sometimes from the church’s mission budget. Other donors pay for the extra costs involved, such as shipping costs, Mr Williams says.
“Each meal goes literally from the hand of a volunteer into the hands of child who is hungry. This really is a practical, hands-on way of responding to some of the areas around the world in greatest need.
“Knowing that a meal that was packed by hand, by a church community in Catford, will feed a child in Zimbabwe is a powerful thing. . . We go back and share with the church community the stories of the children they have fed.
“Hand to Hand also provides a valuable opportunity for churches to think about world mission and do something practical. . . It builds community in churches, and church groups can use food-packing events to broker connections with other parts of their community, with people who many not come to church.
“St Barnabas’s, Dulwich, recently advertised a food-packing event outside the church, and had lots of people who never came to church turn up to help.
“We also raise money for children through traditional means, such as child sponsorship, but we found people want to do more than just give: they want a hands-on and practical way of helping. Younger people, in particular, want to do more; they want an experience as well.”
Feed the Hungry feeds 242,000 children in 21 countries, every day. Some 3000 of these are in camps in Zimbabwe, South Sudan, and Tanzania.
Last week, the Bishop of Woolwich, Dr Karowei Dorgu, hosted a food-packing event that put together thousands of meals for children in Zimbabwe. “I am delighted to have formed a partnership with [Feed the Hungry UK] in my own episcopal area to see how churches in south-east London can pack food and clothes for the benefit of others.”