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Feeding the world: Jefferson Street Church members pack 10,000 meals for Stop Hunger Now

Ben Hillyer | The Natchez Democrat — Six-year-old Nella Gardner and her friend Faith Anne Johnson were responsible for delivering boxes of dried food to individual food packing stations Wednesday night at Jefferson Street United Methodist Church for the “Stop Hunger Now” project. Although they struggled a bit, the girls did their part in amassing 10,000 bags of food to be shipped across the world.

NATCHEZ — Jefferson Street United Methodist Church turned into an assembly line Wednesday night.

People adorned with hairnets and plastic gloves lined tables with bags of rice and packed them away in boxes for hungry people around the world.

Approximately 50 members of the community came out to the church to pack 10,000 meals for Stop Hunger Now, a group which provides organizations from around the globe with packaged meals.

BEN HILLYER | The Natchez Democrat — Volunteers from the church and the community worked in teams to put together the bags.

This was Stop Hunger Now’s first packaging event in Natchez.

Assistant Pastor Karie Sue McCaleb said the church raised $2,500 for 10,000 packaged meals. The meals will be sent to a warehouse in Jackson and shipped overseas or to domestic efforts such as Hurricane Sandy relief.

“Just for us to be the hands and the feet of the Lord, it’s a quick thing, but it’s a big impact,” McCaleb said.

McCaleb wanted the church to get involved in the organization after seeing a packing event at the Mississippi United Methodist Annual Conference in June in Jackson.

“Stop Hunger Now was a big dream for us as a church,” McCaleb said. “I was really blown away by how big of an impact it can be. We have the ability to bless people.”

For Matt Casteel, the Jackson program manager for Stop Hunger Now, having a partnership in Natchez is exciting.

“We can’t do what we do without partnering with other organizations,” Casteel said. “Our vision is a world without hunger.”

Once the meals, which are packed with rice and dehydrated soy and vegetables, are in Jackson, they’ll become a part of a larger shipment of 300,000 meals and sent off from there.

Director of Children’s Ministries Laurie Wells brought her children, Mason, 9, and Cooper, 6, to help her pack some of the meals.

“We’re encouraging everyone from children up,” Wells said. “I just think it’s important for them to do mission work. I think it’s important for them to see the church do that.”

Wells said she wanted to bring her children out to show them there are people in need around the world.

“They don’t want for anything,” Wells said. “I want them to see there are some people that do.”

BEN HILLYER | The Natchez Democrat — As the bags were sealed, volunteers boxed them up to be shipped.