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July 25, 2014

On Meal Packing Events and Ending Hunger

Meal-packing events are growing in popularity for congregations, synods and youth ministries as a way to address hunger. These events usually include contracting with an organization that provides bulk ingredients to be combined and packed into serving-sized portions of ready-to-cook, nutrient-rich meals. Volunteers can pack thousands of meals in a short period of time. The event is kept lively with music and friendly competition. Participants often describe the experience as fun and positive, and for many it is a first exposure to providing food for the hungry.

ELCA World Hunger is our church’s response to eradicating poverty and hunger by addressing root causes. We do that through a comprehensive approach of relief, education, advocacy and development. A meal packing event, which is aimed at providing immediate hunger relief, can provide an opportunity for Lutherans to learn about the other three areas of holistic engagement.

LAMPa is ready to support you in building on your meal packing event, or any other kind of food or meal ministry, with a variety or resources and strategies to deepen the experience and maximize Lutheran capacity to be involved in long-term solutions to hunger.

If you are considering a meal packing event, here are some questions to consider:

Is the food being distributed locally or globally? Do you have a choice in designating its destination? These meals are particularly suited to disaster response effort at home and abroad.

ELCA World Hunger emphasizes the importance of local and regional procurement in non-disaster relief, to build strong local food systems and support the local economy. Ask your organization about the bigger picture of their work in local food systems and how these portions fit into the overall food stream.

ELCA World Hunger works as a church, with and through other churches and partners, following an accompaniment model that values contextual assets and mutuality of relationship. Find out how your organization incorporates these values into their work. In some cases, they are delivering the food in Lutheran-run or sponsored refugee camps already working with local churches in ways appropriate to the context.

Ask how this event can teach discipleship and model faithful service. This could include educational opportunities about the Scriptural basis for addressing hunger and the rich Lutheran theological resources on God’s concern for the poor. ELCA World Hunger has great handouts, video clips and Bible studies.

Are you incorporating prayer into your event? You can do this both during the packing and as a way to involve who cannot attend in person.

Meal-packing events usually take place at your facility, removed from the people who will eventually eat the food. What else you could plan that would help your congregation, if it’s not already happening, to engage with people in need that would build relationships, partnership and understanding.

Finally, consider adding an advocacy action to the meal-packing event. The hundreds of volunteers who turn out could become a potent voice in a current policy debate or decision.

Finally, let LAMPa know how we can help you!
– See more at: http://www.lutheranadvocacypa.org/blogs/meal-packing-events-and-ending-hunger-as-lutherans/#sthash.ou1sUXXq.dpuf

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