SALT LAKE CITY — About 1,300 sales representatives for Vivint Smart Home donned hair nets Wednesday and assembled more than 272,000 meals to be sent to orphans in Third World countries.
With upbeat music blaring over speakers at the Salt Palace Convention Center, employees and their families assembled the meals made of rice, soy protein, dried vegetables and a vitamin-rich flavoring substance.
"We say it's the most fun you can have in a hair net," said Nathan Sheperd, development adviser for Feed My Starving Children, the Christian nonprofit that provides the meal kits and oversees their final delivery.
The project was completed over six hours, with each volunteer employee spending about two hours helping with assembly. By the end of the day, they had prepared the 2 millionth Feed My Starving Children meal ever packed with the help of Vivint — a number reached over the course of a 10-year partnership between the organizations.
"It's not just a work function, it's a way of life," said Casey Baugh, Vivint's senior vice president of sales, who assembled meals with his wife and daughter. "We try to make giving back really what we're about."
Feed My Starving Children worked with other organizations to donate 333 million meals to needy populations last year alone, Sheperd said. The Minnesota-headquartered nonprofit works with numerous organizations in the United States and internationally to send meals to refugee camps, schools and churches to aid humanitarian efforts in multiple countries, he said.
"The reason I love this organization is the fact that it's so tangible, what we're doing," Sheperd said. "You close that box, and the next time it's opened, it's by families who are going to be eating."
The meals assembled by Vivint employees are destined specifically for special-needs orphans around the world, said Nate Randle, chief marketing officer for the company.
"We believe every child deserves the opportunity to have a meal, to be nourished," Randle said,
Randle also noted this year's event — organized by Vivint Gives Back, the company's charitable arm — is the largest number of meals the company has ever assembled in one day.
Every Vivint sales representative who was assembling meals Wednesday had volunteered to do so, he said. He believes the service opportunity is a welcome change of pace to those who work day after day in the competitive and fast-paced world of sales.
"What better way to unify the team than through a charitable act, than to give back?" he said.
Sheperd said Feed My Starving Children estimates about 6,200 children die each day across the world "from hunger-related issues." Because the organization feeds "those that are literally starving to death," he said, it focuses on including meal contents designed to give the appropriate nutrients to a person suffering from serious malnutrition.
"Our goal really is to eradicate hunger — work ourselves out of a job basically," Sheperd said.
Baugh said he and the other volunteers assembling meals were themselves greatly benefitted by the emotional impact of doing something impactful for a child in need.
"Work's not work, when you're having a good time," he said.