Nashville Rises Against Hunger

On January 28, Nashvillians from all neighborhoods gathered at Calvary United Methodist Church (UMC) to work together toward a positive difference for some of the world’s most vulnerable populations. They participated in an effort known as Rise Against Hunger.

“This is an annual event that Calvary UMC puts on to give Nashvillians a chance to come and make a tangible, lasting impact on world hunger,” says Eric Taft, the community engagement manager for Rise Against Hunger, which has programs in 20 other cities and abroad. “It has connected locals to Guatemalan, Haitian, Filipino, and Zambian children that suffer from chronic hunger.”

There has been no shortage of action taken lately by those who want to right the wrongs they see in the world. Locally and nationally, people are taking to the streets and voicing their anger. But some issues can’t be resolved through protest. Some are best served through quiet, proactive work.  

400 volunteers attended and packaged 81,000 meals for the hungry, bringing the total to 500,000 meals packaged at Calvary UMC over the last five years. It was a single event that offered a stark illustration of the work that the church is constantly doing to make the world a better place.

“Rise Against Hunger events help us deliver on [our] mission as we express love for our neighbors in the world who suffer from chronic malnutrition,” says Andy Morris, a Calvary UMC member and event volunteer. “These events also give us an opportunity to throw open our doors to the community and show visitors we’re here to help.”

The event regularly pulls volunteers from all over and East Nashville is always well represented. But something about the atmosphere this year seemed particularly fitting for the type of person who calls East Nashville home.

“It’s so easy to get frustrated when you’re dissatisfied with the current political climate or whatever is going on in your personal life and volunteering with Rise Against Hunger was a positive way for me to contribute to our global community,” says Sara Wigal, a volunteer from East Nashville. “I feel like the spirit of East Nashville is incredibly benevolent, active, and ‘woke.’ People are aware of the hurts of the world and want to help.”

While the needs of the world’s hungry remained the focus, the event was also a thankful celebration for those that find themselves in a position to help.

“It’s uplifting to see friends and families of all ages come together to serve as a community,” says Mike Althuis, another eastside resident who participated. “The East Nashville community is so diverse. Events like Rise Against Hunger are a great way to embrace that diversity and serve alongside people we may not have otherwise.”

The issue of world hunger might remain intractable, but the tens of thousands of meals assembled will make a significant difference in the lives of many children. And beyond that, the day of fellowship and positive action provided a respite from an increasingly negative atmosphere and a reminder that when people care, change can happen.  

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