Dexter Volunteers Package 100,000 Meals in a Day
By Doug Marrin, STN Reporter
Members from Dexter United Methodist Church (DUMC) and St. Joseph Catholic Church spent last Saturday preparing over 100,000 meals for children facing starvation.
“Thousands of children around the world every day die of starvation or starvation related conditions,” says Brad Jones, organizer of the event. “We’re packing 100,000 meals today for those areas of need.”
Volunteers gathered in DUMC’s gymnasium to pack meals in partnership with the mission group Feed My Starving Children (FMSC). Assembling the meals is a simple process. Donations fund the meal ingredients. To keep production costs down, volunteers hand-pack the meals. Since 1987, FMSC has battled global starvation and its effects by distributing millions of such meals worldwide.
DUMC and other host organizations pay twenty-five cents for each meal’s ingredients. The church raised $25,000 to fund the 100,000 meals that the volunteers assembled.
“This is our sixth year providing meals,” says Jones. “In our five previous years, the church has provided more than 600,000 meals. We’ll go over the 700,000 mark today.”
The meals are assembled in three two-hour shifts, with 150 volunteers working each shift. The meals contain powdered vitamins, dehydrated vegetables, soy protein, and rice. Nutritionists developed the meals to supplement nutritional needs and reduce related and potentially fatal conditions such as pneumonia and diarrhea.
Jones has organized all six of DUMC’s meal packaging events. “What moved me is reading about and working with Feed My Starving Children, and them telling me that 10,000 kids a day die of causes related to malnutrition. It’s a very difficult number for me to get my head around.”
“It's just a powerful Ministry of people serving other people, and we have been blessed to be a blessing to others,” says Tom Snyder, DUMC Pastor of Missions & Evangelism. “God has called us to help those in need, those who are less fortunate, and this is a great way for us in the United States to do that.”
FMSC has sent meals to 108 countries since 2009. Recipients must apply and are evaluated on the percentage of children being fed, funding availability, and customs clearance experience. A year’s supply of food is distributed at a time, giving the recipients a stable food source. FMSC makes its meals available in the U.S., but thus far, there have been few takers.
On its website, FMSC states, “Our meals were designed for the severe undernutrition that is more common in the developing world. Its taste and texture is not as well received in the U.S. When we get requests from domestic hunger programs, such as following a disaster, we send a sample box. This has not led to any large-scale requests.”
“I look at how we in the U.S. expect and know that food will be in our fridge every day,” says Jones. “And then I see these kids who fight for a meal like this once a day, and it just pulls at my heart. Packaging these meals is one little thing that we can do.”
Photos by Doug Marrin