The Smithfield-Selma football team had an unusual workout last month.
The team gathered on a Saturday morning, pulled on their jerseys and donned white hairnets.
The players then packaged 10,000 meals for “Stop Hunger Now,” a nonprofit international organization that provided 50 million meals in 2014 and more than 200 million meals since its founding in 2005.
High school groups often help the Raleigh branch with meals. The Green Hope girls lacrosse and girls soccer teams packaged more than 15,000 meals earlier this year, for example.
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But Darron Stover, a Stop Hunger Now project manager, said Smithfield-Selma was the first football program that he knows of that took on feeding hungry people as a project.
“Wes Hill, their coach, had been involved in a similar project and wanted his players to have this opportunity,” Stover said. “Not only do the players work together to accomplish a goal, they focus on helping other people. It helps them see the big picture.”
The meal is a 10-ounce cup of rice, soy protein and dehydrated vegetables, plus a package of vitamins and minerals.
The meal costs 29 cents to make and the sponsoring group, in this case the SSS football players, paid for the cost of the ingredients. The Spartan football program raised $2,900 in the community to fund the project.
Stop Hunger Now supplied the ingredients and the packaging.
“We provide everything except for the tables needed to assemble the meals and the smiling faces to do the work,” Stover said.
The players unloaded the box truck with the materials, put together an assembly line and began packaging, weighing, sealing and boxing each meal. Every time the team reached 1,000 meals, a gong sounded.
The whole process took about two hours.
“It was a real team effort to package, weigh, and box 10,000 meals,” Spartan Antonio McDaniel said.
Teammate Auston Blackmon said it was an enlightening project.
“It was a great opportunity for us to give back to those who are less fortunate around the world,” Blackmon said. “It really brought us closer to the cause. I look forward to participating in more service learning projects next year.”