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Churches put together 30,000 meals as part of feeding ministry
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Jim Hill and Bill Venable measure and seal packages of food at McEver Road United Methodist on Sunday, April 19, 2015. Each package holds enough to feed six people. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Area churches gathered Sunday to put their faith into action by pouring out and packaging some 30,000 meals as part of a global feeding ministry.

“This is what Jesus would do,” said the Rev. Rob Bruce, pastor at McEver Road United Methodist Church in West Hall.

“If the church is the kingdom of God on Earth and, in the kingdom of God, there is no more crying, no more hunger and no more war ... then this is what we need to be doing,” he said.

“We just don’t meet on Sundays to hear a sermon and go home.”

Some 150 volunteers packed inside McEver Road United Methodist for the Stop Hunger Now effort.

Stop Hunger Now is a Raleigh, N.C.-based organization that, according to its website, “gets food and life-saving aid to the world’s most vulnerable people, and works to end global hunger in our lifetime.”

Founded by a United Methodist minister in 1998, the group has provided more than 180 million meals in 65 countries.

The packages prepared Sunday will go to a warehouse, “then we’ll get an email sometime in the future saying where (the meals will go),” Bruce said.

Last year’s packages went to Kenya in Africa and Belize in Central America, he said.

The packages included dried foods, such as rice, as well as a vitamin packet.

The process involved workers pouring precise measurements of foods, weighing and sealing bags, and packaging boxes.

“It’s a real system,” Bruce said, watching as workers hurried about in the open room, with classic rock music blaring in the background.

“It’s pretty amazing what they do,” said Terry Walton, senior pastor at Gainesville First United Methodist Church, of the hunger campaign. “And it’s picking up steam … across denominations.

“It’s the kind of thing a child or senior adult can help with. ... Hunger is a real issue, but it’s an issue we can address.”

“This is a very easy way to help,” said Wendy Cordova of Gainesville First United Methodist, as she worked with three other women at a table. “It takes an hour of your time and you feed people. You can’t beat that.”

Jim Hill of McEver Road United Methodist said, “You can always give somebody money, but you’re not sure where it goes to.

“This way, we know it’s going to serve people who really need it. (The food is) distributed in a way that the people who really need it receive it.”