ROYALTON – A local group packed 30,000 meals for a Feed the Hunger event in Magoffin County over the weekend, with a portion of the meals prepared in honor of Madison Nicole Allen, the 18-year-old Magoffin County High School senior who was killed in a fatal car crash just days before graduation earlier this year.
Licking River Baptist Church Pastor Richard Greene explained that his church has been partnered with Feed the Hunger, a group out of North Carolina, for several years, but this was the first event held in Kentucky.
Feed the Hunger provides food packets for children in nine different counties in Kentucky, as well as all over the world, and through it, Greene said they have been providing packets to all the schools in Magoffin and to the Magoffin County Cooperative Extension Services Offices.
On Friday, August 11, roughly 65 people showed up to the Licking River Baptist Church's Koinonia Mission Center (the former Salyer Elementary building), and packed 10,000 meals in less than two hours. On Saturday, another group came in and did the same. Church groups and members with the extension office pitched in, as did random people from the community. Saturday night they held a memorial pack-a-thon in honor of Allen, who had been active in the church and had planned to take a mission trip to Haiti.
“Maddie grew up in the church, attended VBS, went to the Women’s Group meetings, then helped with VBS,” Greene said. “She always helped when we needed anything.”
Green said someone in the church came to him a while back and asked if there were anything they could do in memory of Allen.
“I asked Feed the Hunger and they were on board. Her family, friends and classmates collected money from the community and raised enough to pack 10,000 meals in her honor,” Green said.
At 28 cents per meal, they collected $2,800 in Allen’s honor. Though the rest of the meals packed on Friday and Saturday are to be disbursed to kids in this area, as well as anywhere else in the world, as needed, the 10,000 packed for Allen are being sent to Haiti.
Each food packet contains rice and beans, along with a nutrition, Greene said.
The program started 50 years ago in Haiti and Africa, where kids were dying of AIDs and a part of the problem was malnutrition. While AIDS is incurable, after the program started, the children’s health improved, Greene said.
While statistically 1-in-4 kids in Kentucky go to bed hungry every night, Greene said that number is problem much lower than the reality.
“The backpack programs are terribly underfunded, so we try to work closely with them, not only to provide meals, but also to help find sponsorships to help fund that,” Greene said.
He said he hopes they will be able to start holding packing events annually or every-other year, perhaps alternating hosting pack-a-thons with mission trips to North Carolina to help with the Feed the Hunger initiatives there.
“Probably the main takeaway from the event would be the opportunity to help others in itself is a joy,” Greene said. “To be able to give up time and finances to help your own community and all over the world is one of the biggest callings we can answer. To sacrifice yourself to help others is something Christ taught and we are trying to imitate.”