Can anything you do at church be more fun than combining a mission project to feed others with barbecue to feed the volunteers? I was proud of my home church — Woodhaven Baptist in Cary/Apex — and lucky enough to be in town this weekend when those two opportunities arose.

Volunteers work in assembly line fashion to pack thousands of meals in short order.

More than 100 volunteers showed up to participate in a Rise Against Hunger food-packing event in which church folk paid for the dry ingredients and then packed something like 15,000 meals for shipment to folks who are facing hunger somewhere in the world. Each package contains a mixture of rice, soy, vegetables (like lentils), spices, and 23 essential vitamins and minerals. All the recipient needs is a pot, clean water, and a heat source to cook up a meal sufficient for several people. The meal is not only nutritious, but on the tasty side of the meter: I’ve sampled it.

Rise Against Hunger (formerly known as Stop Hunger Now), is a Raleigh-based relief ministry that has facilitated the packaging of more than 313 million meals, serving hungry folk in 74 countries. The organization also assists local recipients with capacity-building projects to improve local crops, fish, and livestock production to help meet their future needs.

Need a recipe for seven gallons of beans? I can fix you up …

While the many volunteers in one building were packing meals for the truly hungry, a few others were chopping smoked pork shoulders, making cole slaw, and cooking hush puppies. For the first time in a while, I had a chance to break out the old washpot, put on my overalls, and cook up a mess of “washpot beans,” something I learned from my old friend Johnny Brown, from Hogansville, Georgia. Johnny died in November 2010, but his recipes and memories live on.

Friendship, fellowship, and food for hungry folks near and far: all the makings of a good day.

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