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Saturday morning, the sun rose over South Africa where 3.1 million children suffer from hunger on a daily basis. Over 8,000 miles away and six hours later, volunteers from the Network of Hope, a Pittsburgh-based service organization, made their way to Allison Park Church to address the hunger problem with a mighty force.

As Rise Against Hunger Founder Ray Buchanan addressed the crowd, he reminded us that “it is all of our responsibility to end hunger for two reasons: (1) because it is the right thing to do and (2) because it is possible.” In a world where the lack of food production is not the problem, we are called to a passionate purpose of ending hunger; a social justice issue that is truly solvable.

“What I love most about a meal packaging event with Rise Against Hunger is the collective pulse in the room,” Network of Hope’s Regional Program Director, Julie Mikus shared. “There’s a heart that beats with compassion to help people across the globe. It’s amazing when the community comes together to make a difference; alone we can do so little, but together we can do so much! It can feel overwhelming to envision a world without hunger, but with organizations like Rise Against Hunger, I believe it’s possible.”Allison Park Church and the Network of Hope have partnered-up with Rise Against Hunger since 2016 to package rice-fortified, protein-enriched meals for those in need around the world. Their impact now totals 452,304 meals with distribution in Uganda, Malawi, Swaziland and South Africa.

Lead Pastor of Allison Park Church, Jeff Leake, expressed his excitement for the community’s service-minded event. “Our people absolutely love being able to give their time and energy to packing the meals,” he said. “The plan, approach, and atmosphere are amazing. We are hooked.”

Network of Hope’s Serve Day has become a bright light to the people of Pittsburgh. Not only are they packaging meals to go abroad, but they are serving the needs of their local community through beautification projects, building playgrounds, picking up trash, honoring U.S. Veterans, and serving in other areas around the city. Roughly 1,400 volunteers served approximately 319,000 people through 30 different Serve Day activities across six regions of Pittsburgh. The Rise Against Hunger component came about because a 7-year-old-girl shared the event with her grandfather five years ago. You can read her story here.

“We love partnering with Rise Against Hunger, because a meal packaging event like this is so much more than just an event to our people. It brings families and communities together to serve one collective vision, and it makes a lasting and powerful impression on those who serve. Our people love it. And we can’t wait to partner together again in the future!” – Kyler Sederwall, Network of Hope Site Coordinator

Saturday evening, as the sun dipped below the horizon in South Africa, the Network of Hope volunteers had just finished packaging the final meals that would complete the 8′ x 20′ shipping container bound for Johannesburg. The question we must ask is, “How many more sunsets will countries around the world have to experience where hunger still exists?”

In just a few months, Rise Against Hunger South Africa will unload the meals packaged by the faithful Pittsburgh community and distribute them around the country to Early Childhood Development programs where children will have a chance to experience hope for a prosperous future; a beautiful example of a Network for Hope.

To find out how you can engage your faith community, contact Rev. Kevin Magee at faith@riseagainsthunger.org or visit our Faith-Based Partnerships page.

Network of Hope: Network of Hope promotes lasting change for our communities and those experiencing hardship by Enriching and Equipping individuals and families in crisis and then Empowering them to give back to others in need.

Allison Park Church: Allison Park Church is a family-friendly church where you can belong. They are committed to creating an environment where God meets you where you are and strive to help you discover how you can make a difference in the world.

Shared in Blog, Growing the Movement