Help food drive

St. Mark's Episcopal Church invites the community to help it assemble 24,000 meals on Saturday for Stop Hunger Now, a Raleigh-based international hunger relief organization.

St. Mark's is a 125-year-old congregation at 8600 Mount Holly-Huntersville Road that's partnered with Stop Hunger Now for five years. Stop Hunger Now's meal packaging program has provided more than 42 million meals worldwide.

"Caring for the poor is a big part of what we do at St. Mark's Episcopal Church," said Melanie Blythe, church member and outreach leader. "We regularly host Stop Hunger Now events, and it is amazing to see how a small church like ours can make such a big impact."

Last year, St. Mark's families packaged more than 10,000 meals that were shipped to victims of the earthquakes in Haiti.

This year, the church received a $6,000 gift specifically for Stop Hunger Now events, allowing it to bag more meals than last year.

Meals will be packaged at tables in assembly-line fashion in the church parish hall.

Volunteers combine rice, soy and dehydrated vegetables with a flavor packet that includes 21 essential vitamins and minerals. The food stores easily, has a shelf life of five years and transports quickly.

"This is a volunteer event that every member of the family can participate in together," Blythe said.