Monday, February 22, 2010



The dictionary says:

Stray: verb: … turn aside especially from the main subject of attention or course of argument in writing, thinking, or speaking, …having wandered away from home.


Yes, I must cleanse the “cycling soul” tonight. I have strayed from my appointed course of riding and writing about cycling. This is particularly unacceptable behavior on my part because we finally had a great weather weekend here in the mountains of Western North Carolina. I turned my attention away from noting the wonderful feeling of being back on two wheels after the snow imposed cycling hiatus. I wandered away from my “cycling” home. I did not ride; I did not write. Sure, I made the quick foray into Cycling Experiences to see the latest on the Fargo trailer build. Yes, I managed to jump into L.A. only to find that BikingInLA had documented yet another Hit and Run event resulting in the death of a cyclist, and yes, I discovered the many, many ways Fatty utilizes bibbed shorts. But, I didn’t write and I didn’t ride. Let me take you back…

72 Hours Earlier

Friday and Friday evening was spent prepping for participation in a major community effort to package 60,000 meals for the children of Haiti. My Rotary club participated in the project along with two more Rotary clubs in my home county, students from several local schools, and members of a local United Methodist Church. As Rotary District 7670 Team 7 Coordinator, my job was to marshal the troops and help provide manpower. We are connected with Stop Hunger Now!, a Raleigh, NC based non-profit organization that feeds the people of the earth in poverty, drought stricken, and disaster situations. All of our meals were directed to Haiti as part of our 1 Million Meal packaging project.

We had this project planned well before the earthquake. The need only became much more intense as everyone knows. Our meals all go to schools and are served only in the schools. Funny thing… parents will send their kids to school when they know they will get a good meal – probably the only one of their day.

Saturday morning dawned bright and beautiful and the event got underway with the first of 3 shifts of two hours each. Our Rotarian shift was to be the third one of the day and would culminate in a final packaging of 25,000 meals. The meals consist of a mixture of dried ingredients: soy protein, dehydrated vegetables, a multi-vitamin source, and rice. Each package must weigh between 350 and 380 grams. Each package is weighed and then sealed and has a shelf life of 5 years although none of the meals will ever see a shelf for that length of time.


(SHN rep Micky Hoerner orients personnel to project. Weighing stations can be seen on the right and sealing stations on the left.)

Following orientation, the assembled troops hit the ground running and started packing meals. We were in a relatively small space due to having been moved from the school’s cafeteria to a portion of the library due to a “make-up snow” day being held on Saturday.

SHN_Dry Product(A work station ready for action. clockwise from top left: rice, funnel, vitamin powder, dehydrated veggies, soy protein) 

A “Funnel Captain” holds a bag on the bottom of the funnel and directs the products to be placed in the funnel. Rice must go last for weight adjustment later. When several bags are filled, a “runner” takes the bags to the weighing station and from there to the sealing station. Once sealed, another “runner” takes the sealed packages to the packing section where they are counted and placed into cartons for shipping. A final group carts the packaged product to a waiting 18 wheeler for transport to Charlotte, NC for international distribution. The “gong ringer” ( a fun role!) hits a big gong each time 1000 meals are packaged. Our group of 9 stations rang up 1000 meals every 3 minutes. I was amazed at how fast the process worked.

SHN_Packing(Three work stations can be seen in this image.) 

Our total day’s effort resulted in 41,418 meals being packaged at the astronomical cost of twenty five cents per meal – Yes, that’s right a quarter a meal. Each package holds 6 meals at a cost of $1.50. Mull that one over the next time you grab that $3.50 Latte. We came up short of our 60,000 goal only because we ran out of product. Not to worry though because we have another work day scheduled for April 24th when we will package that 1,000,000th meal!

The “best half” and I made it back home around 6:00 p.m. I think we were asleep by 6:30 p.m. No riding – no writing. I strayed…

SHN_Kathy(My '”best half” Kathy after having registered everyone.) 

48 Hours Earlier

Sunday was another outstanding day weather-wise. We were both still tired and somewhat sore from our Stop Hunger Now! event but were still determined to make our way to Catawba College to see our niece play in a softball game.

KatGeouge(Photo credit: Catawaba College Athletics) 

 Kat, our niece, is starting her final year of collegiate softball so we are making every effort possible to catch as many games as possible. Kat has never missed a start as a 4 year starter on the club and is one of the perennial leaders in statistical categories. Catawba is located in Salisbury, NC in the Piedmont section of N.C. It was pleasing to drop down the mountain and get out of the snow for a change. We had some really nice weather off the mountain and were able to sit around in short sleeve shirts for the first game of the double-header. After a fine time watching collegiate sports and getting in a short visit, we headed back up the mountain and home.

12 Hours Earlier

Monday – work… ‘nuff said.

So, there you have it – a full fledged “getting it off my chest” explanation for having strayed from my appointed rounds. The confession is complete. The sordid affair now behind me. Tomorrow – I ride! Well, maybe – it’s supposed to snow again!

(Note: the Stop Hunger Now! organization is an outstanding group of people to work with. Their administrative fees are only 4% so 96% of all donations directly serve the intended recipients. They have great relationships “in-country” and the meals really do get to the targeted sites. We sent a team along on a distribution flight and saw the incredible work being done. If anyone out there is looking for a great project to get involved with, I highly, highly recommend these folks to you! There are numerous YouTube videos about the program so just google away for more info!)

Until later,

- Zeke

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