Attendees at the Green Meeting Industry Council’s (GMIC) Sustainable Meetings Conference in San Francisco took an hour out of their day on April 16 to aid Stop Hunger Now, an organization that works with the events industry to end world hunger. In the short time attendees had, they packaged 29,808 meals for the hungry—and your group can do the same at its events.
The way it works is Stop Hunger Now will come to an event with all the supplies ready for attendees to package meals. Each meal costs about $0.29 and will provide nutrients for one person for an entire day. The packaged meals include a packet of 21 vitamins, soy, dehydrated vegetables and rice. Groups work in teams to prepare the packaged meals as quickly as they can.
At the GMIC event, several assembly lines accomplished the task quickly with one person adding vitamins to a bag, another dishing out the soy protein, then the vegetables, then the rice, while another person ran the bags from the assembly line table to a storage area where people were calculating the number of bags produced by the group. Motivational music such as Kool & the Gang’s “Celebration” kept attendees moving while engaging with one another and helping a cause in the process. Plus, the sound of a gong rang every time about 2,000 meals had been prepared, adding to the feel-good goal of the event.
While the program is obviously benefiting the hungry populations of the world, it also serves as a way to connect attendees, as well as help corporations meet philanthropic and employee engagement goals.
“When an employee works like this at a packaging event for the hungry, they feel better about the company, so there’s company loyalty and there’s employee retention,” says Karen Sanders Noe, corporation relations director for Stop Hunger Now. “That planner that organized that and made that happen did a real good job and is a value to that company.”
Sanders Noe also said that Stop Hunger Now has repeat business 90 percent of the time, so groups often get more creative around the concept every time they incorporate it into an event.
“We’ve had different colors of hair nets, different gongs and noises, and have hosted competitions between assembly lines, which can get sloppy but [attendees] love it,” says Sanders Noe. “We’ve also taken [members of groups] on trips to Nicaragua, for instance, to see the food being delivered.”
Sanders Noe says the organization offers so many benefits on so many levels. First, the group is doing good in the world; then, the employee feels good about their company; and then, the planner is valuable in the company’s eyes because of what they did. Now, who said corporations can’t be heroes?