Last night was my first time volunteering to pack food for an international feeding program called, Feed My Starving Children (History - Statement of beliefs). It will not be my last. I was so impressed by this organization. Compassionate, innovative, connected, organized, humble and faith centered without being faith imposing.
COLLABORATIONS: FMSC packs and delivers vitamin and protein rich meals for starving (not hungry, starving) children around the world (including North Korea). They have collaborated with General Mills, Cargill, Pillsbury on the food production end, thousands of volunteers on the packing end, and hundreds of missionaries in 60 nations on the delivery end to make this happen. I would say they have collaborated with God as well.
PRODUCT: In each pack of food is rice, dried soy, dried veggies, and a chicken flavored, vitamin rich powder. When cooked together, it makes a balanced and highly nutritious vegetarian meal that even tastes pretty good. The food is durable and has a shelf life of nearly 3 years, though it gets eaten before that shelf life expires. A meal is one cup of this mix (with water added and cooked, of course). One cup of food for a person starving is actually excessive at first, until the body adjusts back to feeding on food rather than feeding on itself.
STORY: One story told in the orietnation nearly brought me to tears. An 8 year old boy in one of their new sites weighed 19 pounds when FMSC children arrived (My son weighed half that AT BIRTH). He was obviously near death by starvation. They had a photo of him that just hurt to see. After 6 months of eating their nutrition rich food, he weighed 73 pounds. The photo of him at 6 months was stunning. He gained over 50 pounds in 6 months and neared normal weight for an 8 year old.
VOLUNTEERING: This was a family affair for us. My immediate family, mother, sister, neices, step-sister, her daughters, and one of their boyfriends all got together to volunteer. What fun. It took just under two hours to get an overview of the program, get trained on how to pack the food properly, and then to pack the food and clean up. There were a total of over 50 volunteers that night. We packed nearly 10,000 meals in that short time. We packed enough food to feed 26 children for one year. Essentially, we played a role in saving 26 lives last night.
After we had completed our shift, my daughter said, "How cool was that?" My daughter and son are now scheming ways to raise money for FMSC. A mere 17 cents buys one meal.
WORK: The work is easy and children can do it. There are meaningful roles for people who are confined to a wheelchair.
OTHER: The dissertation I am writing for my doctoral studies is on adolescent civic engagement. There were many adolescent volunteers of the 50 volunteers there. It was so encouraging to see. This kind of service is so powerful and meaningful. I wonder if there is some sort of way to measure the nutrition for the soul that is received by those who volunteer in a similar way that there is a way to measure the nutrition of the food itself. hmmmmmm