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Locals fight child hunger

 

JENNA-LEY HARRISON

Staff Writer

 

More than 400 local volunteers of all ages are set to gather Saturday at a southeastern Lincoln County church to pack 100,000 meals for starving and malnourished children both locally and worldwide.

Charlotte-based nonprofit group Servants with Heart sponsors the annual event with a chief goal to compile easy-to-prepare, healthy meals for families in Nicaragua and Mecklenburg and Lincoln Counties, a press release said.

The group is passionate about ending hunger, an ongoing issue that annually takes the lives of hundreds of children.

“Every six seconds, a child dies of hunger-related causes — 14,000 children every year,” Servants with a Heart Co-Founder Suzanne Yoh said. “We would like to change that.”

Suzanne and her husband Jeff founded the nonprofit two years ago. It was originally named Kids Against Hunger Charlotte, one of more than 100 satellite groups of Minneapolis-based organization Kids Against Hunger, a humanitarian food-aid organization established in 1999 to reduce worldwide child hunger, the website said.

The couple’s three children also help volunteer.

Packing events take place numerous times throughout the year including nine already since January, Suzanne said.

Meals consist of various dry ingredients such as white long-grain rice, crushed soy, a dehydrated vegetable blend and chicken-flavored water and mineral powder.

Organization officials rely on a $5 donation per person to fund the project. In addition, members of Lucia Baptist Church in Stanley, the hosting site of this weekend’s packing effort, and the Denver Lake Norman Rotary Club worked together to raise funds to cover the cost of each meal —15 cents.

Over the years, the group has packed more than 1.2 million meals through the aid of more than 5,000 area volunteers, the release said.

The group opts to pack precisely 100,000 meals because it’s exactly the number needed to feed 300 children during the course of a year.

Servants with a Heart also provides for poverty-stricken Nicaraguan children through local partner Samaritan’s International of Waxhaw, Suzanne said.

Of the more than 40 million meals Servants with a Heart packed in 2011, more than 34 million of them were shipped overseas.

“10 percent (of food) remains in the local area in food banks, school backpack programs, Loaves & Fishes, etc.,” Suzanne said.

The nonprofit has also hand-delivered meals to Nicaraguans on multiple occasions and was even featured on NBC Nightly News in November for their humanitarian efforts.

The packing event will be Saturday at Lucia Baptist Church, located at 15434 Lucia-Riverbend Highway in Stanley.

For more information on the project or to volunteer, email suzanne@servantswithaheart.org or jeff@servantswithaheart.org or visitservantswithaheart.org.

“God calls people to make a difference, and this is how we are trying to do that,” Suzanne said.

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