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Today in the Mission Yearbook

Virginia church members work to combat hunger


More than 28,000 bags of food are packed in two hours

August 12, 2020

First Presbyterian Church, Winchester, VA, member Lennox Beck, 4, counts packaged meals before they are boxed for shipping.

Members of First Presbyterian Church in Winchester, Virginia, as young as 4 and as old as 84 years old recently participated in a program designed to eliminate hunger. The church has gathered twice in the past two years to pack meals for Rise Against Hunger, a program that turns pallets of food supplies into meals for the hungry.

In February 2020, volunteers packed more than 28,000 bags of rice, soy protein and dried vegetables in about two hours. It was the second time First Presbyterian had participated in Rise Against Hunger, an international relief organization with the mission of eliminating hunger by 2030.

“First Presbyterian Church is a hunger action congregation,” said the Rev. Dr. Dan McCoig, pastor of First Presbyterian. “We take seriously Jesus’ teaching to feed the hungry. Rise Against Hunger is one of our many hunger action ministries. It’s an opportunity for members of the congregation to learn more about hunger in the world and to do something concrete about it, such as making and packing meal packets for shipment to food-insecure regions of our world. We get a sense of following Jesus and serving our neighbor.”

Teens and able adults stood shoulder to shoulder to fill bags with uncooked food. Other volunteers, some in wheelchairs or hooked up to oxygen tanks, handled sedentary tasks such as sealing or weighing each bag. Children, barely tall enough to see over the tables, carried large buckets filled with food from one station to another.

Rise Against Hunger supplies the food and equipment. The church was responsible for paying for the shipping costs. “It’s really a credit to this church and this congregation with their faith and ministry. We’re not a budgeted item. It’s all donations,” said ruling elder Patrick Pearson, who found out about Rise Against Hunger from his daughter, who had participated at her college. “The church is really big into hunger relief.”

Robyn Taylor, Reporter and Writer for The Winchester Star in Winchester, Virginia. Send comments on this article to Robyn Davis Sekula, Vice President of Communications and Marketing for the Presbyterian Foundation, at or call her at (502) 569-5101.

Today’s Focus:  Rise Against Hunger

Let us join in prayer for: 

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Laurie Kraus, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Susan Krehbiel, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Let us pray:

 Dear God, we pray today for those who are struggling to feed themselves and their families. We pray for deliverance from the scourge of hunger around the world. Help us to know the most effective means and the best ways to help those in our own communities and far beyond who need food. Give us the wisdom and the courage to be your light. Amen.