The event last weekend was hosted at my church (which is also where I work). It was presented to countless businesses, organizations and churches in our county, to raise awareness, welcome volunteers, and raise funds to make it possible.
I worked behind the scenes helping with a small part of the fundraising with t-shirt sales, as well as packing meals for a few shifts. We got a great deal from our local t-shirt design shop so that we could sell t-shirts for $10 a shirt, with $5 from every shirt going toward our fundraising goal.
Our initial goal was to pack 200,000 manna meals, and we flew past that goal early in the fundraising process, so we increased our goal to 270,000 meals. Soon we we planning for 325,000 because of the overwhelmingly generous response-not only from our church congregation, but from our community and county!
When you first hear the statistics that---6200 children die EVERY DAY from starvation or from complications caused by malnutrition and starvation, it seems so very sad-especially in 2015-right? It also seems pretty overwhelming, or as one of our pastor's said it's kind of "paralyzing" to think that we need to do something but what can we do? How can we make a difference?
That's where the organization Feed My Starving Children comes in. They have worked with major food manufacturers to come up with meal packs that are not only very inexpensive to produce, they are specifically created to give children just what they need to feed their little bodies and brains.
When you go to a mobile-pack,event, they talk with your group about why you are there packing meals...and they show you pictures of kids who's lives have been turned from hopeless, and imminent death, to healthy and thriving. They also show you a quick video on how you're going to help, and what you're going to be doing.
Before we left the orientation room, we all had to put on our hairnets, and once we reached the packing room, we all sanitized our hands. The people who were directly handling the food products also wore gloves. The process was very simple-anyone could do it. We had kids that were 4 and 5 years old working alongside their parents, and grandparents, as well as every age in between! This is such a tangible, easy way to actually make a difference. I highly recommend getting on their mailing list so you know when a mobile pack is coming to your area, so you can help!
The first line in the work station was the food packers. 2-4 people who scooped out measured scoops of vitamin powder, dried veggies, soy and rice. They scooped and poured it in order into a funnel. The baggers were taking turns holding a small plastic bag under the funnel to catch the ingredients as they came through.
After it was bagged, it would go to the scales. Each bag needed to be between 380 and 400 grams. The rice was always the last ingredient, so if it was too heavy, you could remove a little rice. In the same way, if it was too light, you could add a little rice.
When the bag passed the weight inspection, it went to the sealing station-a two person job. One to hold the bag taut-keeping food product (and fingers out of the way), and the second person to press down on the hot sealer to seal the bag. At each table station, there were 2 sets of food packers, weighers and sealers, and when the bags were sealed they went to the boxer. One person to stacked up bags of food in piles of two over 18 numbers on the table-totally 36 bags when all the numbers were covered. It takes 36 bags to fill one box.
It was such a fun atmosphere! Filled with lots of hard work, but also lots of camaraderie and good times by people who were so happy to be able to make a difference!! The FMSC workers play music while you're working and depending on how production is going, they know to play fast music (to speed you up), or slower music (to slow you down). Every time you fill a box, your whole team lets out a huge cheer-to let the runners know to pick it up, but to also spur a little friendly competition to the other teams.
On Sunday when we went to church, we heard that they were 50 people short for the final two packing sessions that were scheduled for that day. So, after service, we raced home, changed our clothes and went back to dig in and help some more! I sent a text to one of my friends and she ended up bringing her husband and two kids to work at the last shift of the day, so I stayed and helped at that one too.
After each packing session, they tell you how many boxes and meals you packed-and how many kids you have provided food for for 1 year. They also show you before and after pictures of kids who have been saved by these meals, and the transformation is incredible!
So, for 5-2 hour food packing sessions...how many volunteers do you think we ended up with? How many bags of food do you think we packed? How many boxes (remember, there are 36 bags in each box) do you think we packed? How many kids do you think we were able to feed for a year??
Kids/ 1 year: 972
Plus, the donations were still coming in! We now have a jump-start on our fundraising for next year!!!
Here are some pictures of how we spent our weekend...
Heading down to the packing room from orientation...lovely hairnets!
Getting the bag ready to catch the food!
Vitamin powder, dried veggies, then soy and rice
Sealing up the bags!
Loading up the table until we had 36 to fill a box!
The other side of our production line...
Not a great shot, but it shows the lay out of the tables...
My youngest getting ready to run refills to the stations as they ran out
Mr on Sunday morning...
My youngest and my friend and her son at the second and last shift on Sunday
Maybe if enough people get involved, that number of 6200 kids who die every day from starvation or other things caused by starvation and malnutrition can be reduced to a big fat zero-hopefully in my lifetime-wouldn't that be awesome!?!?