MLB gets hands-on to Stop Hunger Now

Food packaging event helps raise awareness of worldwide effort to feed children

MLB gets hands-on to Stop Hunger Now

NEW YORK -- Nearly 800 million people around the globe are chronically malnourished. One in every nine children goes to bed hungry each night. And 66 million primary school-age children attend school hungry across the developing world, resulting in many begging on the streets or working in fields and factories under oppressive conditions.

On Wednesday at the Major League Baseball Commissioner's Office, about 100 MLB employees did something about those staggering statistics by volunteering in a Stop Hunger Now food packaging event -- teaming up to pack 12,000 meals that will feed 72,000 kids worldwide. The assembling-line packing stations put together soy grain, rice, dried vegetables and a vitamin pack into sealed bags, so that the receivers will only have to add hot water.

It was a community effort, a team-building exercise, a way of raising awareness among all MLB fans on how they can help Stop Hunger Now and it supports the United Nation's recent declaration to end extreme poverty worldwide by 2030. The U.N. stated in its Sustainable Development treatise, in the "People" section: "We are determined to end poverty and hunger, in all their forms and dimensions, and to ensure that all human beings can fulfil their potential in dignity and equality and in a healthy environment."

Stop Hunger Now has been around since 1998, and it has made it possible for concerned citizens -- corporations, congregations, student bodies and beyond -- to join forces and pack 250 million meals that go into boxes that are shipped around the world to make a difference.

"It's a real honor to be partnering with Major League Baseball," said Steve Reiss, Stop Hunger Now's NYC Metro Area program manager, in an interview punctuated by one of the ongoing gong eruptions that marked packing milestones on the way to 12,000. "They're an international organization with such strong brand equity, so to be able to partner with MLB and have access to millions and millions of fans. … They are going to help us end world hunger in our lifetime."

"Hunger is a worldwide issue, and for our employees and our interns to get involved in making a difference, it's a big thing for these guys and girls here today," said MLB vice president of community affairs Tom Brasuell. "When kids get a good meal to start the day off, they do better in school, so it's really important. In a country like this, worldwide even, where there is no shortage of food, making sure people get food is really key.

"You really know you're making a difference. You can feel the difference. Each of these packages that provides six meals, you know, it's something tangible in your hands. It's a great event. RBI [Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities] kids, as young as 10 years old -- they've done this as well. We've done it in Texas, in Minnesota, in Cincinnati ... they see the difference. When you can do something hands-on and you know you are helping people worldwide, to feed them and have a better start to their day and a better start to their life, hopefully we can help the U.N. goal of eradicating hunger by 2030."

Reiss said the children receive the meals at their schools, a key to the process.

"[Their parents] have a choice," he said. "They could send them up the road where there's a free meal, and they keep going back. What we've seen happening is, enrollment increases, retention increases by two to three times, they develop the skills that they need to survive in life, they can produce for their own family and provide. Through time and generation, that breaks the cycle of poverty. By breaking the cycle of poverty is how we can end world hunger in our lifetime."

Visit StopHungerNow.org to learn more about how to get involved with packing meals for the hungry, and visit MLBCommunity.org to learn more about MLB's year-round involvement in the community.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.