Peters Township church packages 10,000 meals for developing nations
When the Rev. Jeff Vanderhoff attended to the United Methodist Annual Conference in 2015, he saw something he wanted to try at his church in Brackenridge.
The conference at Grove City College hosted a meal-packaging event with a hunger organization called Stop Hunger Now.
“(I was) just amazed at how smoothly everything went and how this organization was able to get a team of volunteers to package so many meals in that short of a time period,” Vanderhoff said. “I just wanted my church to experience that and be a part of making a difference in a very large way.”
His church then partnered with Stop Hunger Now and hosted an event to package meals to be sent overseas.
Now the pastor at Trinity United Methodist Church in Peters Township, Vanderhoff hosted the same event Saturday, June 3.
“When we shared the vision of what this organization does, people responded very well,” Vanderhoff said about the Brackenridge congregation. “I just knew they would have the same response (at Trinity), and, as a matter of fact, it was an even better response.”
Trinity UMC welcomed the services from the same organization, now known as Rise Against Hunger, to provide the supplies for the ministry event.
About 70 volunteers from the church packaged a little more than 10,000 meals for people in developing nations in only an hour’s time. Vanderhoff was expecting only 50 volunteers but he wasn’t surprised by the large turnout.
“Once the people realized what a difference this organization makes and how well this can go, I figured they would come, and they did,” the pastor said.
While this was the first time Trinity UMC has worked with Rise Against Hunger, Vanderhoff plans to bring the organization in for future events.
Rise Against Hunger’s mission on its website is “to end hunger in our lifetime by providing food and life-changing aid to the world’s most vulnerable and creating a global commitment to mobilize the necessary resources.”
“They just do what they do very well,” Vanderhoff said. “We were confident in their abilities to put the food where it needs to be.”
Vanderhoff said it’s important for churches to have ministry events to “look outward beyond ourselves.”
“Sometimes churches can be too inward focused,” he said. “When we can rally around an idea or a purpose that reaches out beyond ourselves, reaching to people we don’t even know, it really shows that we are responding to Jesus’ call to share his love with the world.”
Uniting the church community is another aspect Vanderhoff liked about the ministry event.
“We had an 8-year-old girl and an 80-year-old woman that were packaging, and all ages in between,” he said. “It really brings together different generations and different people to work side by side and make this happen.”
Vanderhoff doesn’t want the success from the event to end there, as he wants to make it annual.
“Next year,” he said, “I hope that we do 20,000 meals.”