The members of St. Dominic Parish, Brick, put Christ’s mandate to feed the poor into action Oct. 28 as they hosted a meal packaging event for the Rise Against Hunger organization and Rotary International’s District 7500. More than 250 volunteers from the parish, school, religious education program and surrounding community created 33,696 meals for shipment to orphanages and schools in impoverished lands worldwide.
The Raleigh, North Carolina-based Rise Against Hunger (formerly Stop Hunger Now) is a non-profit organization founded in 1998 which aims to end hunger worldwide by the year 2030. It partners with local organizations to organize teams of volunteers who assemble low-cost, nutritious meals for hunger-challenged countries. To date, Rise Against Hunger has shipped more than 300 million meals to 40 countries.
In Burlington, Monmouth and Ocean counties, Rise Against Hunger teamed with the Rotary Club’s District 7500 at three sites; the St. Dominic Parish center served as the host site for Ocean County and parishioner Heidi Tabor as program coordinator.
The World Food Program of the United Nations estimates that 66 million primary age children attend school hungry in developing nations, so student involvement in the project seemed appropriate. Youngsters from the parish school and religious education programs proved to be valuable additions to the work detail, said Elizabeth Tonkovich, assistant principal in St. Dominic School.
“It was awesome,” Tonkovich recalled. “To see people from ages six to 96, all working together, many of whom had never met before this wonderful effort, it was the best two hours ever.”
Tonkovich was gratified about the feeling of camaraderie volunteers on the assembly line experienced as they compiled meal packages of long grain white rice, soy protein powder, dehydrated vegetable blend and vitamin powder.
“We worked so hard, and there was no difference who was from the school or the religious ed program or the parish,” she said. “I walked away with such a great feeling, and I was so proud they came out and they loved it.”
“The turnout at St. Dominic’s was inspiring,” said LaToya Gillyard of Rise Against Hunger, “and the time and effort by each volunteer will help change the life of a child somewhere in Africa, South America, the Caribbean, Asia or Europe.”