At Lake Junaluska, nestled in the Smoky Mountains of Western North Carolina, 12-year-old Mackenzie was not expecting to help fight hunger when she signed up for summer camp. But after spending just one hour helping to package 5,000 meals for children in need around the world, she said, “It felt useful to help people in need,” Her friend Kelly added, “I feel accomplished.”
This summer, more than 600 campers from United Methodist Churches in North Carolina and Virginia teamed up to scoop rice, soy and vegetables into funnels and box up 20,000 meals that will be shipped to countries like Haiti. Many of the older campers and parents had taken mission trips to Haiti and experienced serving the meals first-hand, so it was even more meaningful to have a part in putting the meals together.
Hanna Smith, a summer ministry intern, said “ It’s especially meaningful for them since it is so tangible. They can touch it and smell it.” Smith explained that at a few events this summer, they cooked Rise Against Hunger meals in crockpots during the events, and the campers got the chance to taste the meals.
“It makes the campers more grateful,” said camp intern Marauka Walker. “They learn they’re really not starving, because when they go home, there is food in their refrigerator.” She explained that her favorite part is the stories the facilitator tells. “It really connects us with the issues of hunger globally.”
Rise Against Hunger took its meal packaging program on the road this summer and gave kids and families a hands-on lesson in giving back. Campers packaged meals at Camp Hanover during a family summer camp in Mechanicsville, Virginia, and for the past three years, preteen and teenage Christian youth have packaged meals at Cragmont Camp in Black Mountain, North Carolina.
Rise Against Hunger Charlotte Program Logistics Coordinator Dave Thomas-Bush said, “These campers are receptive. When they take time to come up to you afterward and thank you for coming, you know you are making an impression. Something clicked for them.”
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