Global Volunteers’ multi-faceted partnership with Rise Against Hunger is a model for international cooperation to multiply NGO impact. Through Journey to Serve, Rise Against Hunger encourages like-minded people associated with their multiple programs to participate on Global Volunteers service program abroad to “help end hunger, create food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture on a global scale.” A significant contribution is Rise Against Hunger’s donation of fortified meals to Global Volunteers’ Reaching Children’s Potential (RCP) Program in Tanzania. Global Volunteers, in turn, encourages its volunteers to invest in local meal packaging events which supply the food sent abroad to nourish the RCP children and families we serve. Read on to learn how you can contribute through Rise Against Hunger and Global Volunteers to maximize your contribution through an integrated service effort toward ending hunger and stunting.
Uniting to Build a Safety Net
Ending hunger by 2030 was crafted as one of the 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development (SDGs) adopted by member states of the UN in 2015. The full goal (Number 2) pledges to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture. The UN Hunger Report (State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020 (SOFI 2020) defines hunger as periods when populations are experiencing severe food insecurity—meaning that they go for entire days without eating due to lack of money, lack of access to food, or other resources. After decades of steady decline, world hunger has slowly been on the rise since 2015.
As an indicator of the distance to go towards zero hunger, childhood stunting is as serious as any major issue our world faces today. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that in 2017, 151 million children under five were stunted, the result of insufficient food, nutrition and protection from disease in the first years of life. In Africa, up to 50 percent of children are stunted. These are the conditions the children we serve in rural Tanzania experience, where stunting reaches nearly 40 percent.
The primary staple in rural Tanzania is ugali, a dish made from corn flour. It is very filling, but alone, it lacks sufficient nutrition. To promote food security and nutrition, Global Volunteers’ RCP Program distributes fortified meals, household container gardens, and chicken coops and provides ongoing nutrition education to all RCP families. Two prepackaged nutritious meals donated by our partner, Rise Against Hunger, are provided daily to pregnant women, mothers and their babies, and preschool and primary school students.
Children and moms love the Rise Against meals. “I’m so grateful for the Rise Against Hunger meals because sometimes we might have a scarcity of food in the house so the fortified meals have been very helpful, especially to the little one since other older kids eat twice a day at school,” says RCP mother Lenida Nyenza. “My children prefer Rise Against Hunger meals because they taste so good. I always add salt and a little oil and we eat ugali, and sweet potatoes. I feel so much energy after I eat them. My children, especially the little one, is now very healthy and is consistently gaining weight. She is very active.”
Rise Against Hunger, an international humanitarian organization, provides immediate nourishment for those facing hunger today by facilitating volunteer meal packaging of more than 537 million meals to be distributed to countries around the world. Thanks to Global Volunteers’ partnership with Rise Against Hunger, eligible children and women in the Ukwega Ward of Tanzania receive fortified meals enriched with 20 essential vitamins and minerals, including iodine, iron and vitamin A.
“You can think of food as fuel and nutritional building blocks for muscle, bone and grey matter,” says Chelsie Kolberg, Nutrition Technical Advisor for Rise Against Hunger. “Research shows that proper nutrition in the first 1,000 days of life, from conception to the second birthday, sets the stage for life-long health.”
After receiving meals for a year, the RCP mothers are introduced to container gardening, and Global Volunteers provides 4-5 container gardens to each family to grow their own produce. Throughout the process, families are also provided training and support for their container gardens. Edna Ogwangi, Chief Impact Officer for Rise Against Hunger says: “Getting volunteers to become hunger champions, we enable children and families to rise.”
Between the village schools, a total of 1,408 children now receive two Rise Against Hunger meals a day through the RCP program.
Global Volunteers hired two additional cooks to prepare the Rise Against Hunger meals for the new participating schools. Jali Kifyasi, who works at the Ukwega Primary School, and Zakina Nyaulingo, who works at Makungu Primary School, both attended these schools as children. Irene Festo Mtengela has been preparing the meals at Fikano Primary School, where she studied as a child.
The teachers happily reported a surge in school attendance once the meals arrived. “Since we started providing the meals before classes, the students arrive early, and most attend all the classes, staying afterwards to receive the afternoon meal as well,” they claim. “Moreover, students are now more active than they used to be due to the boost in their daily nutrition.”
Local Actions With International Impact
In order to provide these life-enhancing meals, Rise Against Hunger conducts meal-packaging events throughout the US. More than 400,000 volunteers package meals through the organization’s meal packaging program every year. It is a meaningful, hands-on service project that is suitable for all ages.
The assembly process combines rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables and a flavoring mix including 20 essential vitamins and minerals into small meal packages. These meal packages are then shipped to various destinations. Global Volunteers’ RCP Program is one of Rise Against Hunger’s international destinations. Global Volunteers raises funds for shipping the meals to Dar es Salaam, the port of entry in Tanzania, where it’s loaded onto a truck and transported 10 hours to the Ukwega Ward and stored in a new facility constructed exclusively for the food. From there, the meals are distributed to mothers every month and to the schools every two weeks.
The meal packaging events are sponsored by employers, schools, faith-based institutions and other groups. By joining a local meal packaging event, volunteers can directly contribute to the feeding program supporting the children and women who receive the meals – and then help distribute them on site during the service program. In this way, volunteers see the “full-circle” impact of their contribution at home – and in Tanzania. Those who have participated in these two ways together have reported a greatly enhanced sense of connection to the partner community and the people they’ve served. You can learn more about how to participate in – or organize – a local meal packaging event near you by contacting Rise Against Hunger. We’d love to follow you from your hometown to the Ukwega Ward in your journey of compassion and nourishment!