Children Feeding Children – A Short Story

It was an early Saturday morning in September, and Aubrey, Gage, and Levi were eager to get inside the building. Each of them carried a small plastic baggie filled with money they had saved for this very day. Their mom, dad, and younger brother trailed behind them. This was the 4th year they had come to the Michiana Event Center in Howe, Indiana, to help pack meals for starving children around the world. They were about to join almost 3000 volunteers for a Feed My Starving Children MobilePack event. Running ahead, Six-year-old Levi looked back and yelled, “Come on! We’re here to stop world hunger!”

Once inside, the 3 children easily found the registration table. The table was covered with coin banks and candy tubes filled with quarters, dropped off by other children. With big smiles, the three happily added their treasure to the bounty.  Something caught Gage’s attention, and he pointed to a map. “Look, the food we’re going to pack goes to some of the countries we’ve been reading about in school.”  As he leaned on the table, his finger traced over Ethiopia, Haiti and Nigeria. “Wow, it says the food goes to over 70 countries.  That’s a lot of kids.”

One of  registration volunteers handed them white hair nets and said, ‘you’ll need to wear these while you pack the food.”   Aubrey took off her ring and stuck it in her pocket, “I don’t want this to drop into the rice.”  Giggling, the 3 youngsters put on their nets and skipped off to the orientation room.

Once seated, the volunteers watched a  video about a little orphaned boy named Emmanuel.   At 2 years old, Emmanuel weighed only 9 pounds. “Ezra looks so much bigger than him!” exclaimed Gage. Hearing his name, Ezra, their energetic 2-year-old brother, scrambled down from Mom’s lap and ran to them.  Seeing the difference between the boy on the screen and boy by her feet made Aubrey sad, and she whispered,  “we’re here to help you, Emmanuel.”

After a few last minute instructions, the 250 adults and children, scheduled for this 2-hour shift, filed into the packing room.  “Look at all these tables,” said Gage, as he entered the large arena filled with 15 packing stations. All the tables were supplied with funnels, scoops, baggies and scales. At the end of each station, lined up in a row, were 4 large boxes. Each box was filled with one of the important food ingredients: rice, soy meal, dried vegetables, and a vitamin/mineral mixture.

As the volunteers took their spots, Aubrey stepped right up to the food scoops, her favorite job from last year.  Levi grabbed the station next to her, and chose the rice scoop while Gage headed to the end of the table to help his Dad with boxing.

Upbeat music began to play, and before long, their assembly line was working smoothly. As heads bobbed and toes tapped, baggies were filled with the food, and boxes were packed. At one point, the FMSC Team Leader, Danny, stopped the music and announced, “I hear we have a birthday boy here today.” Gage looked up, suddenly feeling shy. Aubrey pointed, and yelled out, “It’s him. It’s him. He turns 8 today!” As Gage covered his face with both hands with embarrassment, the entire room began to sing Happy Birthday.  Danny gave Gage a “high-five” hand clap and said, “Thank you for helping us pack meals on your special day.”

When their shift was finished, and all their boxes were packed, Aubrey, Gage, and Levi cleaned up their station, and followed the rest of the volunteers back to the orientation room.  “I think we packed a lot of boxes,” Levi boasted as he scrambled into his seat next to his brother. “Yeah, I think we packed hundreds of boxes,” Gage agreed.

When everyone was seated,  a FMSC staff member took the microphone and began quizzing the volunteers: “How many meals do you think you packed?”  A boy from high in the bleachers helled, “200!”  Another volunteer shouted, “300!”   “Oh, you did better than that,” the staffer said, “you packed 355 boxes! That’s over 76,000 meals!”

“Whoa” said Gage, we really did help stop world hunger today.”

At dinner that night, Levi climbed into his chair and set his piggy bank on the table.  “I know I was saving for a bike, but I want to give this money to Feed My Starving Children.  Kids need to eat more than I need a new bike.  When can we pack again?” Dad and Mom exchanged smiles as everyone bowed their head to pray.   Dad’s voice shook with emotion as he spoke, “Dear God, thank you for this food we are about to eat…”

Founded in 1987, Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) is a Christian non-profit that provides nutritionally complete meals specifically formulated for malnourished children.   FMSC produces three special MannaPack™ meal formulas developed by food science and nutrition professionals to supplement nutritional needs and reduce problems with malnutrition. Hope begins with nutritious food. FMSC exists to provide this hope in the name of Jesus. For information on an FMSC MobilePack near you, visit http://www.fmsc.org.

 

 

Community Team Walks and Prays For Starving Children – Meals From Michiana

MobilePack-Logo_PMS-647We are now in the early stages of planning our 7th local Feed My Starving Children MobilePack, Meals From Michiana.  I became the coordinator for this event in our 20160420_090429Northern Indiana community 2 years ago.  The MobilePack manual provided by FMSC has been my constant companion as I organize and plan.  Everything that needs to be done for a successful Manna Pack is explained in this notebook.  The first instructions are to appoint leaders to 7 different committees: Leadership, Prayer, Promotion, Fundraising, Logistics, Volunteers, and Hospitality.  Administration comes easy when FMSC has already created the “big picture”.  Once I saw the overall plan, it wasn’t hard to get leaders for the various committees.

However, that first year, no one stepped up to take the role of Prayer Leader.  After asking several people personally, and still getting no volunteer, I created prayer cards for all the other committee leaders.  We tried to pray individually, and of course, corporately whenever we had meetings.  That worked okay, but I felt it was still lacking.

Were we praying enough?

The second year, all committee leadership positions filled quickly, but again, no one chose the Prayer Committee.   I tried to think of a way to get everyone involved in praying for our MobilePack.   I was inspired by a conversation I had with a local businessman.  He had been walking the sidewalks of our community, praying for the 1 small businesses.  He said he was “claiming them for God”.  He then talked of his surprise at how the walks were transforming him, making him love this community and its people more and more.

Our MobilePack was 7 weeks away, and with new resolve, I contacted our core volunteers.  I told them I would be at the event center at 7:30 a.m. for the next 6 Saturdays.  I asked them to join me to walk around the facility and pray for our Pack. When Saturday arrived, it was wet and chilly, but as I waited in my car, more vehicles pulled into the parking lot.  Fortunately, there are few schedule conflicts that early on Saturdays —  and people came to pray!

area view MEC

Our event center is a sprawling, odd-shaped building. There is pavement along two sides of the building, and nothing but tall grass and dirt on the other two sides.

We started off a bit awkward, walking, dodging puddles, and praying out loud.   We must have been a curious sight to people on the nearby freeway.  Heads lowered, hot coffee in hand, walking, and talking.

nafec-pic-cropped-670x377We prayed for the MobilePack and the starving children; we prayed for the building and for the volunteers; we asked God for safety; we prayed for the FMSC staff.  We asked for our community to be transformed by this event. 20150918_145438

We prayed for every detail. 6343999175_794f60fc06_n

And we claimed the event for God.

And by the time we completed the circle, we all felt excitement in the air.  No one hurried to his car.  People stood around talking about God, the Pack, and the kids who would receive the meals.

And that’s when I knew this would work.

Walking and praying together refocused us.  We were no longer worried about the volunteers, or the money, or the logistics of the Pack.

He would take care of the details.  God had lifted the burden.

And the next Saturday, they all came back.  In fact, every Saturday leading up to our FMSC MobilePack, we prayed around the perimeter of that building, staking our claim.  God honored those prayers, and our MobilePack ran smoothly, volunteers were in abundance, and we packed over and above our goal.

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As we move forward, planning for our 2016 MobilePack, all the committee leaders are in place.  This year, I’m not seeking a Prayer Leader.   I’m planning a Prayer Walk.  We will walk and pray.  I’m not worried about participation.

They will come.

It was that powerful.

FMSC Mobile Pack Event

FMSC Mobile Pack Event

Meals From Michiana — Crisis in Haiti!

michianafmsclogoslantedWe are about 10 weeks out from our 6th annual Feed My Starving Children MobilePack.  That sounds like a long time, but really, we have a whole community to canvas and make aware of this amazing event; the time is short.  You’d think with it being our 6th year that FMSC MobilePack would be a household phrase in our area.  Unfortunately, that is not the case.  We have just barely scratched the surface of the hands and funds that can provide food for these kids.

Each year we have “upped”  the number of meals we pack, and therefore, the amount of funds we need goes up as well.  In 2011 we packed 257,000 meals and raised $56,000.  In September, we 10429360_10152708892339304_7644639926082300316_nhope to pack 650,000 meals and raise $143,000!  Those totals are daunting to me.  The task is too big.  I’m not sure we can do it.  Thankfully, its not about me.  I’m not the one in charge of who helps and who gives.  God has faithfully taken care of that part.  Each year, to the amazement of those of us on the leadership team, the people come to pack and the people come to give.  Every year we’ve met our goal.  And every year, we thank God for moving the hearts of the people.

This past weekend, as I prepared promo materials to hand out in our community for our upcoming MobilePack, my daughter sent me a news release about the Dominican Republic and Haiti.  There is a crisis on the border even as I type this post.   Love A Child, an orphanage located in Haiti who is a big recipient of FMSC MannaPacks,  wrote this on their blog,

“The Haitians, who are mostly children of illegals and were born in the Dominican Republic, are now being removed. They have no birth certificates for either country and are being DEPORTED out of the Dominican Republic.   This is the only home they know and in Haiti they have no family and don’t speak the language. They ARE NOT RETURNING ON THEIR OWN, they have no place to go, and most of them speak only Spanish. It is a nightmare.”

I emailed my contact at Feed My Starving Children to see what they knew about this situation.  I didn’t have to wait long for a reply,

“FMSC is monitoring the DR/Haiti immigration issue very closely.  We are in communication with some of our largest Haiti partners as they determine their role.  So far, one of our largest partners has diverted 4 of their allocated containers to Haiti for this specific need”.  

That’s over a million meals!

And THAT is why we pack this food.

In another email, a Love A Child representative said,

“the best way for you to help is to pray and keep on packing those meals — they are getting to us!”

So it is with renewed vigor and energy that we promote our MobilePack for September.  Every meal counts.  Every one.  There is a Pack close to where you live.  You can find one by going to fmsc.org and searching for MobilePack locations.  Grab your children, your parents, or your neighbors and get involved!   It is an awesome experience and you’ll be glad you did.   Comment here if you pack — I’d love to hear about it.

“The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.”     Proverbs 22:9

untitledIf you’d like to know more about Feed My Starving Children, go to:  fmsc.org

If you’d like to donate to our community MoiblePack, go to: fundraising.fmsc.org/Michiana

If you donate, I would love a brief, general comment here — and thank you!  God bless.

Meals From Michiana!

MobilePack-Logo_PMS-647It all started with a phone call from our daughter who had recently taken a job in Chicago.  ‘Dad, you should see what we are doing at our church!  You would love this.  I wish you were here!’  She was talking about a food-packing event for Feed My Starving Children.  FMSC is a Christian non-profit organization committed to feeding hungry children around the world.  Her church was sponsoring a FMSC MobilePack, a program that connects local volunteers to starving children by packing food or donating funds.   As stated at their website, The approach is simple: hand-packed meals specially formulated for malnourished children sent out to mission partners running orphanages, schools, clinics and feeding programs around the world.

My daughter knows her daddy well, and as she continued to share her excitement about this program, she explained that one of the main ingredients in these MannaPack meals is soy.   Well, that was all it took — my husband was in!   You see, my guy is a farmer — of soybeans.  And my guy is a giver — of anything God graciously gives him.  He is one of the most generous men I know.  So a program that feeds starving children, uses soybeans, and connects local people in a generous mission-type project was like a recipe made in heaven to him.  It only took a matter of weeks before he, his two farming partners, and a local pastor had a FMSC MobilePack scheduled for our area.

A MobilePack in process -- hair bonnets and all!

A MobilePack in process — hair bonnets and all!

Our small farming community raised over $44,000 and packed 205,000 meals that first year, using almost 1000 volunteers.  One of the wonderful aspects of a FMSC MobilePack is the variety of “jobs” available to reach the goal.   My 83 year-old mother sat at a table with her friends, putting labels on food baggies while my 5 year old grand-daughter stood at a packing table, stacking MannaPack meals with her Papa.  It was an amazing event, and our community loved the opportunity to be involved.

My grandson helping attach labels to MannaPack food baggies

My grandson helping attach labels to MannaPack food baggies

Not everyone can go to an orphanage on the other of side of the world to feed a starving child, but most of us have a couple of hours on a Saturday to help pack a few meals.

michianafmsclogoslantedIt has now been almost 7 years since that phone call from our daughter.  We are still packing meals every September for FMSC.  The event has had its challenges and rewards.   It has been a learning experience for all of us.   Join me here each week as I share some of those stories and take you along on the adventure as our community provides Meals From Michiana.  

If you’d like to know more about Feed My Starving Children, go to:  fmsc.org

If you’d like to donate to our community MoiblePack, go to: fundraising.fmsc.org/Michiana.  (If you do so, I would love for you to leave a short comment here).