With each hit of a giant gong came a large cheer over the music at the Tivoli. The gong symbolized that two thousand meals had been packaged, to be sent in the goal to eventually end world hunger. This was struck fifty times on October 11, as non-profits Food for Thought and Stop Hunger Now teamed up to create the Rock-a-Belly festival, packaging 100,000 meals in a day.
“Why not spend a few hours on a Saturday trying to do something for people who don’t have everything?” said Wendy Menefee, who came through her work, with her husband, Scott. She was one of around 800 volunteers who were separated into two 2-hour shifts.
Volunteer Janet Steinkamp said, “It was amazingly well coordinated. It’s like a conveyor belt of people.”
Each bag, which held six meals, contained vitamins, an assortment of vegetables, a soy protein. And lots of rice.
“There was rice flying everywhere,” added Matt, her husband.
The ingredients were put into bags by funnels. Once a small group had five or six bags in a container, “runners” would be called over to take the container and drop it off at the “weigher” station. Those people had to make sure that the bags were between 389 and 394 grams, taking out and adding rice as needed. From there, “sealers” would use a device to close the bags, which would then be given to the “packers.” Finally, a box of eighteen bags would be packaged, ready for the trip to a third-world country.
After all the effort put in, it was only right to celebrate. Chefs from around Denver served tastes of food, and bands, such as FACE and Hunger Pains (which Matt plays in), created a fun festival of helping others, and feeling good yourself.
“The problem is big,” said Food for Thought’s co-creator Bob Bell. “What you’re doing today is going to support the problem on a larger platform.”
Food for Thought hopes to make Rock-a-Belly annual, but for now, you can help by packaging meals with them for local Denver schools.