Around Town | SCV Million Meals Marathon
Story and Video by Gloria Locke
Dreamed of making a million? Volunteers combined efforts across Santa Clarita this weekend to make a million…meals, that is.
The fourth annual SCV Million Meals Marathon event partners with “Children of the Nations” and locally with “Help the Children” in a two-tiered outreach. Million Meals prepares precisely weighed portions of lentils, spice, chicken, and rice in ziplock plastic bags and boxed to ship overseas. During the same event, dry foods and canned goods are donated to local non-profit food bank, “Help the Children.”
“I wake up knowing that I have food and everything and I know some kids don’t wake up with that feeling,” said nine-year-old, Jack as he organized boxes. His sister, Riley, completed filling a box with 216 meals to ship overseas. A sense of teamwork and purpose were in the air.
“These meals that we are packaging are going to go to Malawi, a small island off the coast of Africa. It’s called ‘the Orphan Nation,” says Steve Meyers, Real Life Church Outreach Director and Newhall Campus Pastor. “But also the event is something that blesses kids and families here.”
Over a thousand volunteers rotated through Real Life Church parking lot to participate on Saturday as part of the weekend event. Volunteers from NorthPark Community Church took part in the event on Sunday at their Kelly Johnson campus, planning to complete 50,000 meals according to the Children of the Nations event coordinator.
Although most of the volunteers will not be able to follow the distribution process past the parking lot, local pastors have made the journey around the globe with Children of the Nations. “I actually just got back from Uganda with them and just seeing the impact these meals and child sponsorship makes on them,” says Scott Harland, IT Director and Online Pastor at Real Life Church.
Lentils. Spice. Chicken. Rice – could be heard at each table as measuring cups scooped into large bins of rice and lentils. Tablespoons of chicken powder and spices were sprinkled into the large funnel with a plastic ‘baggie’ below the funnel. There was, however and extra, secret ingredient: prayer. Upon completion of each shift, the volunteers gathered to pray over the meals, for those receiving the meals and the hands that prepared the meals, giving thanks and glory to God.
“It’s just as helpful to package the meals here in the U.S. It’s got 17 vitamins and minerals in it. Sometimes these kids only eat once a day,” said Sara Booth, Event Coordinator for Children of the Nations for the past eight years. “You can’t just ‘drop and go.’ You can’t just give handouts to people, it devalues them. Our core belief is to raise children to transform nations and you have to partner with the nationals in each country,” she said.
According to event officials, Real Life Church prepared 200,000 meals on Saturday to add to the total meals for the weekend. To date, Santa Clarita volunteers have produced two million meals since the inaugural event in 2010. Start planning for the 2015 five year SCV Million Meals milestone.
“We can do this. It’s a small way that we make a difference but it impacts a life in a big way as well,” said Meyers. “That what Jesus does. His arms are open wide to everyone. He loves everyone as they are. We want to be a part of this community, love this community in any way that we can. One of those ways is to help meet needs for those who need the help.”