WESTBROOK — Members of four congregations got a lesson in assembly-line packaging Sunday while helping to feed needy Mainers.

More than 60 volunteers from four Westbrook churches and other groups set up assembly lines in the basement of the Trinity Lutheran Church to put together and pack 10,000 meals through Outreach Inc.’s Kids Care program. Outreach Inc. is an Iowa organization that works to provide food, clean water and education for needy children around the world.

The challenge for the volunteers was to produce and pack 10,000 nutritious macaroni and cheese or rice and bean meals in an hour. The meals are to be distributed through Westbrook Community Food Pantry and other local hunger organizations.

“I just wanted to help and see it in action,” said Nancy Crump, a volunteer from the Westbrook Community Food Pantry.

A competitive spirit ruled among the five assembly line crews from the Trinity Lutheran Church, Westbrook Warren Congregational and Pride’s Corner Congregational churches and the First Baptist Church.

Jacob Gately, 11, a member of the 12 youth and adult volunteers from the Pride’s Corner church, said his group was ready to work quickly but he had another motivation for giving up part of his Sunday afternoon.

“Just for the satisfaction,” he said.

Matthew Martin, Outreach New England regional manager, started issuing orders.

“Hand sanitizers, hair nets and gloves,” Martin shouted.

The chattering and socializing volunteers hopped into action, organizing themselves along tables. Each group poured measured amounts of ingredients into pouches, which were handed down the line for sealing and packing.

“If you don’t do it right they won’t fit in the box,” Martin warned.

Each church raised money to pay for the food. The meals cost about 25 cents each. It takes a crew of 12 about 37 minutes to package 1,000 meals on average. The boxes soon started to pile up around the tables.

Brenda Orach, chairman of the Trinity Lutheran social ministry committee, said a contingent from her church traveled to Biddeford to watch an assembly line in action and decided it would be fun to try it in Westbrook. Who knew packing food could be so much fun, Orach said.

“We got major excitement from it,” she said.

Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

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