CRUSH Hunger feeds starving families in Kenya


Senior Allison Ryberg and junior Madison Hanson weigh meal packages to send to the starving in Kenya. Photo provided by Brady Bilbro.

Brittany Cornelison

Senior Allison Ryberg (left) and junior Madison Hanson weigh meal packages to send to the starving in Kenya. Photo by Brady Bilbro
Volunteers walked into the Parkade Center today, Sept. 30, with the goal of feeding more than 100,000 starving families in Kenya through the Columbians Reaching Unfed and Starving Homes Hunger event  sponsored by Numana and coordinated by Alive In Christ Lutheran Church.
Volunteers stood in an assembly line working to fill, weigh and seal packaged meals of rice, soy protein, freeze dried beans and 21 vitamins and minerals.
The food products were supplied by Numana, a non-profit charity organization that sponsors food packaging events all over the country. Each meal packaged cost  23 cents, including the cost of ingredients, packaging supplies and international shipping costs. T
he food is not only filling, but it’s also nutritious and targeted to benefit the immune systems of the malnourished people in Kenya,
Stephen McBee, youth minister at Alive in Christ Lutheran Church, said. He felt compelled to help organize this event because in the United States people rarely worry about being hungry.
“You know, my kids, they don’t know what hungry is. They have three square meals a day with snacks in between,” McBee said. “And so, to know that there are parents out there that are deciding today which child to feed, you know when we can, at 23 cents a meal, do something about it, [is heartbreaking].”
CRUSH Hunger was the first event of its kind. The goal was to raise $50,300 which would be enough to package 261,360 meals, but the funds raised were not quite that.
Alive in Christ spoke to radio shows, television stations and other churches in order to raise money for the event, but in the end were able to raise around $21,000 which filled 100,000 meal packages.
Church officials decided on this event through the inspirational challenge to do something big for their community, McBee said.
“At our church (Alive in Christ),” McBee said, “our pastor Tim Morris was kind of putting the challenge out to us as far as, you know, ‘What if we cancelled church on the fifth Sunday of the month and instead of coming to our own house of worship and kind of serving ourselves what if we went out into Columbia and had a ‘service’ serving the community?’ and so we were all kind of looking for ideas and we came across Numana and everything just fell into place.”
In addition to the Numana volunteers, members of the Alive in Christ congregation were also volunteering all day,  teaching people how to work the assembly lines, re-filling ingredients, informing the crowd when boxes had been filled and selling t-shirts in support of this cause. Junior Joanna Zhang, member of AIC, sacrificed her Sunday to help out.
“The number of people we were going to feed was exciting, like 100,000 people is a lot of lives that we can touch,” Zhang said. “ I was also excited that it gave the chance for Columbia to come together as a community to do this, like it was a group effort… it was a good chance to get the word out about hunger too.”
Hunger is a global issue and even though it is rarely experienced  in the United States, it still exists around the world. According to, 25,000 people die of starvation every day. This totals about six million children a year, one child every six seconds. This “wake-up call” was the reason that thousands of volunteers gave up their afternoons to be a part of “crushing” world hunger.
“[Hunger is] so removed we don’t really think about it, I mean you can afford to not think about it from where we are,” Zhang said. “Hunger doesn’t touch us at all… I would say that we’re pretty well off.”
Each volunteer played a small part in feeding the starving in Kenya. Volunteers were of all ages participated. Some poured ingredients into the bags, others sealed off packages, and several weighed the packages to make sure those receiving the food got what they were entitled to. The protocol was strict and the ingredients had to be measure precisely, but overall the process wasn’t too challenging.
Junior Kristen Buster attended the event with her church’s small group and said it wasn’t quite what she had expected.
“My initial reaction was that it seemed like a great idea and like it would be really fun, and I didn’t really understand exactly what we’d be doing, but now I know what we did and it was fun,” Buster said. “I guess I was just most surprised by that the process was simpler than I thought it would be; it wasn’t, like, as complicated.”
Though the process was simple, it wasn’t purposeless. Each step in the process benefited the hundreds of thousands of those who live with the fact that they could go days on end without eating. Volunteers were informed and encouraged that what they were signed up for wasn’t pointless.
“I liked the knowledge of what I was accomplishing,” Zhang said. “Even though it was kind of brainless work I know that it was for a meaning and it wasn’t just arbitrary.”
By Brittany Cornelison
Are you concerned with world hunger? What would you like to see Rock Bridge students do to help out?