Church volunteers pack meals to fight hunger in Cuba

This weekend, hundreds of members of Mount Pleasant Christian Church will come together to form an assembly line to make a dent in world hunger.

Children and adults will work together, scooping together rice, soy, dried vegetables and a nutrient mix rich in iron, zinc, vitamin A and vitamin B12 into packages.

By the end of the day, they’ll have nearly half a million meals ready to go to the needy.

“Many hands make light work. There really isn’t any other scenario where you can pack 400,000 meals for people in a matter of hours and really feed people who are hungry,” said Heidi Wright, serve coordinator for the church.

Mount Pleasant members, staff and other volunteers are preparing for the church’s third annual food ministry event, assembling packages of food to send to their mission partners in Cuba. The high-nutrition packages provide meals that simply require water, a pot and heat to fix.

One of the church’s central focuses is to “change the world,” both locally and globally. The meal packaging event hits both facets, Wright said.

“We’re making a difference here by engaging our community and our church attendees, and then by sending the meals to Cuba, we’re making a difference in the global community as well,” she said. “From a Christian perspective, we can have an influence introducing people to the love of Jesus Christ.”

Starting today and extending through April 29, Mount Pleasant will embark on its Go Change the World effort. The church will host a “secret church” simulcast event tonight with author David Platt, whose book “Radical” teaches how to answer tough questions about the Bible.

Next weekend, an entire day of service throughout the southside has been established. The food packaging event ties the whole week together.

Mount Pleasant has partnered with Pack Away Hunger, a Beech Grove-based organization which organizes meal packaging to help reduce hunger and malnutrition locally and around the world.

This will be the first time that the meal event will go to help those in Cuba. Mount Pleasant has established a mission relationship with Overseas Council, a mission group that partners with seminaries around the world, to work with a Cuban Bible school called Los Pinos Nuevos. The church will be taking a full mission trip to Cuba for the first time in November to assist the seminary in training and educating students at the school.

“Cuba has recently become an opportunity. We have had connections there, historically, but now that the borders are open, and we’re able to take teams there, we have a great relationship,” Wright said.

In discussion with their representative at Overseas Council, Mount Pleasant officials mentioned their food packing plans. The mission representative stressed how much of a need there is in the country, Wright said.

Mount Pleasant, working with Pack Away Hunger, will send the meals to Cuba. The mission organization will then sell those meals to Cuban government centers, who can distribute the food to the people in need.

“It really helps to create this positive relationship as the seminary and churches in Cuba relate to the government. The government wants to feed those who are hungry, and in turn, when the seminary and the mission organization sells them, they get to reap the benefit of those funds,” Wright said. “There’s a lot of impact in this one event.”

Organizers for Saturday’s meal packing have broken the day into three sessions. Volunteers will be assigned a time to come, and will be part of an assembly line putting together the meal kits.

Pack Away Hunger will help train the volunteers to let them know what to do, then the entire group will get to work. A Cuban missionary also¬†will be at Saturday’s packaging event, talking about the people this food will help and where it will go.

“It’s very inspirational to see people, and families come together like this. They can do something that makes a very tangible difference,” Wright said. “Kids of all ages are there, and it really allows families to connect and see everyone come together.”

As of Tuesday, about 1,300 people were signed up for the packing event. Ideally, organizers would like to get to 1,800, Wright said.

People can sign up at the church’s website for the time that works best for them, Wright said. Volunteers are also needed to set up the meal packing stations on Friday, and clean up on Saturday afternoon.

If you go

Go Change the World

What: A community service effort to package 400,000 meals for needy people in Cuba.

Where: Mount Pleasant Christian Church, 407 N. Bluff Road, Greenwood

When: 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., broken into two-hour shifts starting at 8:30 and 10:30 a.m., and 1 p.m.

How to get involved: Go to mpcc.info, and click on the Go Change the World icon on the website to sign up online. People may also call Heidi Wright at 317-881-6727 ext. 246.

Author photo
Ryan Trares is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at rtrares@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2727.