AUGUSTA — The Kennebec Community Church has organized an event Saturday to pack 100,000 meals for the hungry in countries around the world.

Aaron Smith, a church member, organized the event in conjunction with Feed My Starving Children, a Christian nonprofit organization that coordinates the packaging and distribution of food to people in developing nations.

The event begins at 9 a.m. Saturday in the Cony High School gymnasium. Smith said he hopes to have about 500 volunteers working in three shifts — 9 a.m., 12 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. There will be an after party at 6 p.m. at the Kennebec Community Church, at 20 Mission Ave. in Augusta.

To purchase the meal ingredients from the nonprofit organization, Smith needs $22,000, and he hopes he’ll have enough money from community donations and donations from the church to cover the cost. The ingredients will arrive in Augusta on a tractor-trailer, and Smith and volunteers will spend Friday getting the Cony gymnasium ready for the event.

“The event is about bringing the community together to pack food for people out of the country who are really needy,” Smith said. He chose Feed My Starving Children after researching hunger organizations, and he said 90 percent of their funds go directly to providing food.

The national organization sends hundreds of pounds of rice, soy, vegetables and vitamins, and using scales and a specific recipe, volunteers will add the ingredients to MannaPacks, a rice and soy blend. Smith said the nonprofit does research to know what nutritional needs exist in different countries so that the meals are tailored more to the individuals who’ll receive them.

“Each of the packs is a meal for a small family, and it only costs 25 cents to make, which is why we’ll be able to make 100,000 of them,” Smith said.

Smith got the idea for a packing event in Augusta last year when he traveled to New Hampshire to attend an event organized by his niece and her father.

“I thought we could do it up here, so I approached Cony to see if they could provide a space, and I talked to the church about seeing if they could help out,” Smith said.

Last year, Feed My Starving Children shipped more than 288 million meals to 58 countries, including Haiti, Nicaragua, the Philippines, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic and Guatemala.

Smith said the packing events are open to anyone and are a good way to bring people of different faiths together.

“One of the biggest reasons why I wanted to do this, beyond helping people who need food, is bringing the community together,” Smith said. He’s concerned that he may not have enough volunteers, but he said if they don’t have 500 people attend, they’ll just have to work harder.

Feed My Starving Children supports mobile packing events in almost 40 states, and the food almost exclusively is sent overseas. Smith said he’s given some thought to holding more food packing events, and he said there’s a need in Augusta.

“We’re still running through ideas, but what I’d like to do is alternate and do a local drive next year,” he said. “If it was up to me, we’d do something like that next year.”

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ

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