COLUMBIA– Members of the Columbia community held a food packing event Saturday to raise awareness about a large-scale food packaging event on Sept. 30 as part of CRUSH Hunger 2012.
CRUSH, which stands for Columbians Reaching Unfed and Starving Homes, is a new organization of churches, businesses, community organizations and university clubs and organizations. CRUSH aims to combat hunger locally and abroad.
Volunteers gathered in the Columbia Mall from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The participants, led by Stephen McBee of Alive in Christ Church, packaged 8,000 meals and handed out information about the upcoming CRUSH Hunger event.
The larger event will be held at Parkade Center. The goal is to package 261,360 meals — enough to fill an entire semi-truck load. The packaged meals are destined for Kenya. Nonperishable food items donated to the organization will go the the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri.
The meal includes soy, dried beans, rice and a vitamin packet. Every package contains six meals' worth of food and weighs 390 grams. The meals have 220 calories.
The meals are provided through Numana, a Kansas-based charity determined to combat hunger worldwide. CRUSH buys meals from Numana at 23 cents each — a cost that includes ingredients, packing and shipping.
"The actual cooked meal is very tasty and nutritious," said Martin McBee, Stephen's 12-year-old son.
CRUSH leaders said they are hoping to have 1,000 volunteers for the event on the 30th, but McBee said there are only about 300 officially registered. There is no cost to participate in the event.
"Just show up," McBee said.
Saturday volunteers, mainly from the Alive in Christ congregation, set up a small-scale demonstration of the Sept. 30th event. A table was set up with volunteers packing, sealing and boxing the meals.
The mall location exposed community members such as Nancy Anger to CRUSH. Anger said she heard about the event through a friend a while ago. After collecting a flier at the mall today, she said she and her husband will likely volunteer.
"We usually try to participate in whatever way we can," Anger said.
The Columbia Mall allowed CRUSH to hold the micro-packaging event for free. Mall Accounts Manager Francis Day said the mall is always eager to help out.
"We want to be a strong part of the community," Day said.
McBee said he hoped Saturday's event would spur more community interest for Sept. 30's large-scale food packing.
Supervising editor is Jeanne Abbott.